James Kennedy, a 16-year-old Oak Park Eagle Scout was thinking about what he would do for his service project, necessary to advance to the rank of Eagle, when he stumbled upon New Moms — the Austin-based nonprofit that provides housing, job training and other resources to young mothers.
“A family friend told me about New Moms and I did some research on them,” Kennedy said during a recent phone interview. While he was learning about the New Moms, Kennedy discovered that this year marks the organization’s 35th anniversary.
From his exploration into New Moms’ mission, the Oak Park and River Forest High School junior hatched the idea for a service project that would entail community members painting murals on windows at the nonprofit’s Austin headquarters based on the themes of family, creativity and play.
Last Sunday, around 50 people helped out in the creative effort, many bringing their own ideas to the process. The project also allowed some Oak Park residents to experience the West Side in a new and positive way.
“This project has given me an opportunity to be familiar with Austin and gain a new perspective on the area,” Kennedy said.
The day was symbolic of New Moms’ efforts, over three decades, at bringing community members together and building bridges between Austin and Oak Park, said New Moms CEO Laura Zumdahl.
“James has done a fabulous job of organizing this and engaging people in the community, residents of New Moms and our supporters,” Zumdahl said. “They all came together to paint the windows with images that represent our values and are really tangible expressions of the work we do.”