ELKHART —  There’s a new mural at Golden Living Center in Elkhart, and the senior community has 15 young people from River Oaks Community Church’s summer program to thank.

The youths of the MSM Summer Impact Team are an in-between group, somewhere between camper and counselor for the day-camp program.

Preteen coordinator Micah Ridenour finds ways for the group to contribute.

“The whole week is about service,” he said.

The youths spent Monday and Tuesday afternoons landscaping, weeding and cleaning up outside the Tolson Center, then on Wednesday came to Golden Living Centers to offer their services.

Originally intending to do more landscaping projects at that location, Executive Director Martin Paul said he tends to the building maintenance pretty thoroughly, so it wasn’t really a necessity.

“I said, ‘How do you guys feel about artwork?' ” Paul said.

A tall white wooden fence separates the yard outside the dining hall from the homes nearby.

“It’s in the most visible area of the facility,” Paul said. “I thought it would be cool to have some (youths) come out here and paint this and we could change it out every couple of years.”

Ridenour and his team was more than happy to oblige the request.

“We wanted to find something that these kids could be excited about,” he said.

Voted on by the residents of Golden Living Center, the “Creekside” theme was chosen over half a dozen others given as options.

“It was hard to plan and get out ideas across about what we wanted to do, but once we did that the work went by fast,” day-camper Delaney Ergle said. “My favorite part was working together as a team, making friends and strengthening bonds.”

Fifteen youths spent Wednesday and Friday afternoon creating the large fence-line mural. On Thursday, since it was rainy, they went bowling instead, but it didn’t slow them down much.

After they’re finished, the youths will all handprint the ends of the mural as their own personal signature.

“In long-term care facilities you usually have zero budget to do things like this,” Paul said. “This gives it a new fresh look and it involves the community, which is a huge plus to me.”

They’re also hoping to have local high-schoolers come out and paint some clouded over stained glass in the near future.

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