The entrance to the Samaritan Center in Syracuse is brighter now. A volunteer found another way to give back: He painted a mural. It greets guests of the center as they wait for what may be their only meal of the day. Our Iris St. Meran spoke with the artist behind the work and found out what his inspiration was.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Elwood Miller spends his free time cartooning. It's hard to believe, but this is his first attempt at making a mural.
Miller said, "It came out, I think, beyond my dreams."
He decided to take a chance with this mural for the Samaritan Center where he volunteers his time in the kitchen. It's located in the alleyway, where the guests pass through to get what may be their only meal of the day. Before this, the wall was made of lumber bits. This new addition brightens the area in more ways than one.
"So many of our guests feel disenfranchised and like they belong nowhere. This is their Syracuse and when they come in, they think of this man who gave so many hours to create this piece of beauty for them," said Samaritan Center Executive Director Mary Beth Frey.
He didn't go very far for inspiration. Many of designs on the mural can be found within a block of the center including this blue horse and City Hall.
"I wanted to give them something that kind of connected the area where they were to the city because it's kind of hard down this alleyway to connect yourself," said Miller.
Miller understands what some of the guests might be going through. He lost his job several months ago and has been looking for work. When he wasn't occupied with that, he was here painting two hours a day until it was completed.
He previously worked as an architect. The mural is done, but his search for work continues.
"It's a little difficult. I'm the older generation, my computer skills aren't what the computer skills of what someone coming out of college right now is,” Miller added. “I don't know I've got a lot of experience."
This has been a learning experience and a lesson he is teaching by example to others who may be going through hard times.
Miller said, "All of life isn't work, a lot of life is what you make of it."
By taking some time each day, he's made the lives of the people here a little brighter.