by Leah Landry, current Precious Blood Volunteer
The women of PBMR. Not a phrase you hear often at a Center started by four priests as a safe haven for young men. But over the past few years, the women in the neighborhood have become vital members of the PBMR community. On Saturday, February 3, these women gathered together to christen the new Mother Brunner House – the Women’s Center – with a mural that depicts the strength, serenity, and power of the women of PBMR.
The project included women from three programs at PBMR: the women of the advocacy group Community and Relatives of Illinois’ Incarcerated Children (CRIIC), the women from the Mothers’ Healing Circles who have lost children to incarceration and gun violence, and the Young Women’s Group, the newest program for women.
With the help and direction of PBMR’s teaching artist, Alberto Alaniz, the women gave suggestions of the words and images that come to mind when they think of the women of PBMR. The answers were as varied as the women themselves: unity, strength, love, hearts and stars, peace signs, mother and child. Then representatives from each program consulted with Alberto and together the group came up with the image for the wall. A few weeks later, over 20 women gathered at the Mother Brunner House to paint in the image.
You’d think a room full of 20 women, ranging from ages 6 to 80, painting a huge space with lots of color would be a chaotic scene, but the space had a peaceful, collaborative, and happy feel.
Mrs. Wingard, the eldest and wisest in the group and a member of CRIIC, shared her reflections on the day: “Just to remember that I put a paintbrush on the wall and Fr. Kelly and Julie and Sr. Donna are gonna walk through there and see the mural and I thought ‘Wow, I really feel a part of that’…And then to think about them getting the house and putting something on the wall that actually reaches out to the community. [The mural] shows families coming together and it’s not just one ethnicity. It’s not just black, not just white, not just latino: it’s everyone coming together for a common cause, for our children, for our community.”
Shumeka Taylor, a representative of the Young Women’s Group, said that putting the handprints and quotes on the wall was her favorite part. “The hands was so nice. We all who had been doing the part of the wall and engraving our names and a nice quote and that’s something that’s going to live forever in the house and I like that.” Shumeka added “From the older women to the young women, I truly enjoyed it. The older lady put the French braid in my hair while I painted the rest of the mural because they didn’t want paint to get in my 26 inches. I greatly appreciated everything that went on that day.”
Aldena Brown, a member of the Mothers’ Healing Circles, felt Helen Keller’s quote “Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much” captured the essence of the day. “That day of the painting felt good. Everyone working together, good laughs, music, and food! That moment was like nothing mattered. Painting that mural was everything, just being a part of something so meaningful. That gave my heart joy and peace in that moment. My mind drifted to a great place pushing that paintbrush. Yes, I must say that will be a day I’ll never forget! I was a part of that painting coming to life! I’m very thankful!”
The women of PBMR are leaving their legacy all over PBMR and the neighborhood, from the relationships they make to the steps they take towards their goals to the beautiful mural that will greet all the visitors of the Center. From now on, every person who walks through the doors of the Mother Brunner House will know that the women in the community are an integral part of PBMR: strong, unified, and here to stay.
You can learn more about serving as a Precious Blood Volunteer by going to www.preciousbloodvolunteers.org
You can learn more about our placement at Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation by going to https://preciousbloodkc.org/precious-blood-ministry-of-reconciliation/
We join in celebrating International Women’s Day by sharing reflections from current Precious Blood Volunteers and alumnae. Enjoy!
Lota Ofodile (2017)
Leah Landry (2017)
Alia Sisson (2017)
Jade Bowman (2015)
Patricia Wood (2014)
Vanessa Steger (2014)
Nora O’Connell (2013)
Kara McNamara (2013)
Leah Yeo (2013)
Maggie Nickels (2012)
Bonnie Kane (2011)
To learn more about serving as a Precious Blood Volunteer go to our website www.preciousbloodvolunteers.org
Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation (PBMR) works towards reconciliation and healing with those in the Chicago community and our Church who have been impacted by violence and conflict. PBMR’s ministries reach out to the victim, the wrongdoer, and the community to create a safe space where healing can begin and where people can find the support and encouragement needed to begin reconciliation. They strive to be a resource to the community to find restorative ways to heal and rebuild after violence and conflict.
PBMR serves people in the Back of the Yards neighborhood on Chicago’s south side. It is a collaborative ministry of the Cincinnati and Kansas City Provinces of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.
As a Precious Blood Volunteer serving at PBMR you will have the opportunity to walk with and serve others in a variety of ways. They include mentoring, tutoring, advocacy, and being part of restorative justice efforts. This placement is for you if you are looking for a career in the ministry, social work, law, advocacy or education.
You can learn more about PBMR by going to their website.
Read a story by current Precious Blood Volunteer, Leah Landry, about the creation of the mural in the Mother Brunner House at PBMR here.
Read a reflection by current Precious Blood Volunteer, Hector Avitia, about community living in Chicago here.
Read a reflection by former Precious Blood Volunteer, Bonnie Kane, about her experience at PBMR here.
You can apply to serve as a Precious Blood Volunteer at PBMR by going to our “Apply” page.