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Youth volunteers paint mural on Wasilla tunnel to cover graffiti

By Shannon Ballard Photojournalist: Rachel McPherron - 7:24 PM July 29, 2016
WASILLA –

For years the Newcomb Park tunnel, just south of the Parks Highway in Wasilla, has been the target of vandals.

The city has tried to clean up the graffiti plagued walls numerous times, but nothing seems to keep people from leaving their mark.

Wasilla Mayor Bert Cottle says he’s taking a new, more colorful approach.

Once tarnished walls, covered in hateful graffiti and tags, now boast a beautifully painted mural and newly fostered sense of community.

Artist Holly Gittlein and her crew of MyHouse youth volunteers came up with the design for the mural after being approached by the city. All of the bright colors represent a community where everyone is connected despite their differences.

“We are in a tough time in our world. Everything is pretty divided right now and our message is that regardless of who you are, at MyHouse you are always welcome. That’s what we want to show with our mural,” Gittlein said.

It’s a powerful message from MyHouse clients like Ean Johnson.

“I’ve been skirting the edge of homelessness almost my whole life,” Johnson said.

MyHouse is a nonprofit that serves homeless youth and assists those working to become more self-sufficient.

Client River Flowers says working on the mural has been therapeutic.

“I myself was troubled and I didn’t value yet. Now that I’ve gained value as an artist and as a person it’s all around wonderful,” Flowers said.

Together the volunteers are painting over past blemishes, creating new vision for the future and leaving their mark on the community.

The MyHouse mural should be complete in just the next couple of weeks and once it is ,the city will put an anti-graffiti coating over it.

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