This Tri-Cities project for community healing and unity needs your help | Editorial

Community Hope Wall

Jordan Chaney is spearheading a project called the Community Hope Wall in Pasco that will involve a mural and youth from the juvenile justice center.
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Jordan Chaney is spearheading a project called the Community Hope Wall in Pasco that will involve a mural and youth from the juvenile justice center.

A message of hope is getting ready to bloom from heartbreak.

A blank wall near the site of a shooting in Pasco soon could be made beautiful with a painted mural designed by kids serving time in the Benton-Franklin Juvenile Detention Center.

Nearly everything is set to make the Community Hope Wall a reality. All that’s needed now are donations to make it happen.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to buy the supplies and pay an artist to paint the mural.

Organizers are counting on the generosity of Tri-Citians — which time and again proves overwhelming — to come through so the project can be completed before the cold weather hits.

This is a terrific idea worthy of support, and we would like to see the $4,000 goal reached as quickly as possible. Please consider making a contribution by going to bit.ly/wall-of-hope.

The wall to be painted is on the west side of Vinny’s Bakery, Café & Bistro, the eatery where Antonio Zambrano-Montes was fatally shot by police in 2015.

It’s fitting that teens desperate for praise and acceptance are involved in a project designed to convey a message of healing and unity.

The Zambrano-Montes shooting upset many in the community, particular many Latinos, who felt police used excessive force.

In the mural project, these kids are getting a chance to do some good. And the project gives our community the chance to see some good in these troubled teens.

This wonderful effort is part of the Hope Builders Program at the juvenile detention center. Darryl Banks, the juvenile center’s administrator, said that kids in detention generally feel bad about themselves and come in with low expectations about their future.

While they need to be held accountable for their actions, they also need support. The Hope Builders Program brings in mentors who encourage and inspire the teens to turn their lives around.

Jordan Chaney, a Tri-City poet and one of the mentors at the juvenile center, has taken a lead role in the mural effort.

The kids often use art to work through their feelings, and their artistic abilities are amazing.

When Chaney saw the kids’ paintings, he knew he needed to find a way to connect the teens with the community through their art — and the idea for the Community Hope Wall was formed.

Pasco officials approved the permit in July and the teens are getting the design ready. Once the funding is in hand, the artist can get started on the mural.

This is a positive step all around.

In the GoFundMe letter, Chaney said that the tragedy at Vinnie’s Bakery left a wound in the community and the Hope Wall is a bridge-building opportunity. He said the spirit of the project “aims to be celebrated by all of the citizens of Pasco and beyond.”

In addition to the efforts for the mural, the juvenile center also recently published a book of poems and stories written anonymously by teens in the juvenile detention center.

The writings in the book, “Keep Ya Head Up,” are painful, powerful and inspiring.

It was created by kids for kids. The thought was that teens entering the detention center would be given a copy, and after reading it they would not feel so alone.

But there is value in sharing the book with the community, said Banks.

Adults may not realize the poverty and trauma that many kids who end up in juvenile detention have lived through.

The book is available to the public through the Tri-City Herald website, with the link: https://issuu.com/tricityherald/docs/keepyaheadup

Reading their stories, we hope, will open some eyes and hearts in the community.

Nisha McSwane-Franco edited the book and helped put it together. She, along with Chaney, Daisy Vargas and Pasco City Councilwoman Blanche Barajas are part of Team Hope — the lead organizers for the mural, and supporters for the teens in juvenile detention.

They have worked for months to make the Community Hope Wall happen, and now all they need is a way to pay for it. The Tri-Cities needs to come through.