Fresh paint for a new perspective

Fresh paint for a new perspective

The dining room at the Kaaahi Women’s & Family Shelter has long been a gathering place for guests. During meal times, children weave playfully between the tables while parents discuss the day and plan for the future. On off-peak hours, it is a place of relaxation, with board games, a piano, and a TV lounge; and learning, where our Urban Agriculture courses are held twice per week. Tucked away on the opposite end of the dining room is the Women’s Kupuna Dorm, a space of respite for our aging and medically frail.

Lauren Tom, IHS development coordinator, recently designed and hand-painted a custom mural to reinvigorate this multi-functional space. The mural conveys a sense of whimsy and purpose. Shades of green, yellow, and orange dance around the accent wall as illustrations of keiki and kupuna playfully string a puakenikeni lei together. Taking inspiration from her childhood, Lauren recalls picking puakenikeni from her grandparent’s tree in Kaneohe to string lei for May Day, graduations, birthdays, parties, and all celebrations of life. Making lei is a testament to Hawaii’s bounty and the tradition of sharing that bounty with the community. In the same way that the community comes together through IHS to care for those experiencing homelessness.

It was important to Lauren that the mural incorporated bright colors. The warm yellow-orange and chartreuse are reminiscent of a bright morning and budding new life. A feeling that many IHS guests eagerly reach for during their time at the Kaaahi Women’s & Family Shelter. One kupuna resident said that seeing the completed mural outside of the dorm each morning is a sign that “everything was going to be ok.”

Painting the 10 ft x 40 ft mural was a labor of love, taking between 30-40 hours, 13 individuals, and three gallons of paint. In addition to the work of six volunteers, Lauren’s mom, grandmother, two sisters, and two friends donated their time to turn this vision into reality. 

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