SACRAMENTO — It was last January when the Neighborhood Wellness Foundation in Del Paso Heights was forced to rethink community outreach efforts when a strong winter storm damaged its building.
Dr. Gina Warren, the foundation's co-founder and executive director, reflected on how they adapted to continue filling a critical need for some of the community's most vulnerable.
"The rain actually in January blew the roof off, and we were working out of tents," Warren said. "Our work never stopped; we worked through the storms."
The foundation focuses on helping the community overcome patterns of chronic stress, incarceration, poverty, mental health struggles, and many more mental and emotional traumas. It's a grassroots effort made up of Del Paso Heights natives who are helping their community.
"It takes people from the neighborhood to understand the challenges here," Warren said.
That's why adaptation and resiliency were needed to forge forward with or without a building. For months, they operated in makeshift tents until they were able to move back into their repaired building in June. They waited to celebrate their return until the completion of a new sports court featuring an inspirational mural.
"It captures the essence of who we are and what we do and what this community is all about, which is lifting each other," Warren said. "It's about connecting and bringing families together, to lifting children and generations."
With words like "live your dreams" and "healing happens here," the artist who designed the masterpiece said it was a community collaboration.
"It just kept building and building and organically came together and got a whole masterpiece," said mural artist Martin Sernes Ortiz. "This court is special to me because it has a lot of value in it and it has a positive message."
Ortiz praised efforts from Neighborhood Wellness to bring the spirit of the organization to life through art and sports.
"Everybody uniting on this court is a beautiful experience for me because that's the goal, to bring people together," he said. "My art has a lot of love in it, and this is how I am able to spread it and share it."
Ortiz spent time with Neighborhood Wellness to try and capture the mission behind their work. Warren said the court and the mural will only make their dedication to improving the community more special.
"As we climb the ladder ourselves, we are lifting people as we go," Warren said. "Everyone should have an opportunity to realize their greatness."
ACE Resource Network partnered with the Neighborhood Wellness Foundation, donating the mural and supporting ongoing efforts to make the community healthier and safer for all.
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