June 20th, 2024

Streets Alive mosaic a message of hope

By Herald on August 10, 2021.

Attendees look at the Streets Alive Mosaic aftrer it was unveiled Tuesday afternoon at the Streets Alive Mission building. Herald photo by Dale Woodard

Dale Woodard – Lethbridge Herald

A mosaic with a message of hope will permanently greet people walking through the downtown area.

And the south side wall of the Streets Alive building will deliver that message.

Through a fundraising initiative implemented by a team of management students as part of the Integrated Management Experience program – offered at the University of Lethbridge’s Dhillon School of Business – the Streets Alive Mosaic was unveiled Tuesday afternoon.

The project – which started last September – involved creating a mosaic mural of photos and images submitted by community members, local businesses and individuals with the donors purchasing tiles on the mosaic.

The mural focuses on building a bridge between human connection, timeless support and inner beauty within the Lethbridge community and through the purchase of the tiles raised roughly $11,000 for Streets Alive.

In a ceremony Tuesday afternoon, a big blue tarp covering the work of art was dropped and the mosaic unveiled to a round of applause.

“I’m excited,” said Ali Cyr, a student at University of Lethbridge in the IME program who was also the project manager for the initiative. “This has been a a long project in coming. Most projects we finish in April and unfortunately my group didn’t get to finish in April because of COVID and the lockdowns and all the different issues. Now 11 months later, we finally get to see this mural we’ve been working so hard creating with each step. Everybody on my team is so relieved to finally get this completed.”

In addition to the tiles, the mosaic features a man with his back turned, arms outstretched and broken chains hanging off his wrists.

“It’s breaking free and realizing there is some place that can help you and that the people here at Streets Alive do so much work,” said Cyr. “A classmate of mine spent the last couple days volunteering and seeing what life is like working as a volunteer. The stories are so raw and the picture very much encapsulates the feeling you are able to break free and there will be somebody there to catch you.”

Cyr said IME instructor and director Michael Madore talked to different community organizations to get the project started last September, deciding on Streets Alive.

“So we have to take what we’ve learned in the classroom and all the theory and bring it into an actual experience and put it into reality,” she said. “This is affecting real life people, so we have to take all of those concerns and for our class we were presented the issue that Streets Alive was needing funds and they were mainly needing recognition. They needed to be seen in the community for what they can do and how much they offer to the community.”

With the IME group split into different teams, Cyr said they had to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic as they tried to fundraise.

“It’s not the easiest thing, you can’t do a bottle drive and you can’t do dinners,” she said. “So we started building off of different ideas came up with a new mosaic after months of trying to figure out what we were supposed to be talking about and it just snowballed from there.”

The biggest thing Streets Alive brings is hope, said Cyr.

“We wanted to bring hope for the clients that come through the Streets Alive building because as we’ve seen with the pandemic hopes wanes and weaves and our biggest thing was bringing something that is here every day in the community to show the community we care. The focus was having friends, family and the community to donate a photo to show there is somebody out here who wants to help.”

Cyr said only about 70 tiles of the 600 tiles were actually purchased.

“Every single submission we were able to use because unfortunately with the pandemic we didn’t fill every single tile.”

To fill remainder of the mosaic, St. Albert-based artist Lewis Lavoie took the time to create new photos, said Cyr.

“We’re hoping by having this here now that the next time Streets Alive decides to do a project – because they’ve told us they love it and want to do it again – that we can get some submissions and keep growing and growing until the entire wall is taken over.”

Streets Alive co-founder Ken Kissick managed to get a sneak peek at the mosaic as it was being put up, but enjoyed witnessing the official unveiling Tuesday, giving praise to the end product.

“This is great,” he said. “We’ve been anticipating this for a few months. Some of us have had the privilege of seeing the product in its manufacture, so to speak. But it’s on the wall and it’s even greater than we thought.”

Kissick noted the working relationship Streets Alive has with the U of L as well as Lethbridge College.

“When we were approached with this we said ‘yes’. Young people are the future of charities.”

The $11,000 raised for Streets Alive will go a long way.

“It means a lot,” said Kissick. “We look after 60 to 70 people every day and we have upwards of 35 people in our recovery programs on any given day. We’re out there working with the street population, making sure they’re hydrated and their health is OK. So there is lots for us to spend the money on.”

However, Kissick said there’s more to the mosaic than just dollars and cents.

“The mural itself is on ongoing awareness piece. People will see it and it will be visible for a long time. These kinds of things have a life span of five or six years before they really start to deteriorate. It’s also a project we can build on and add to it. We can reprint it. This was a great event because it wasn’t just a one-time thing.”

Kissick said Streets Alive weighed in on a few details during the creation of the mosaic, but added the rest was all the students.

“Obviously we had certain things, our logo and the wings and mission statement, which was ‘hope.’ They would ask us a few questions and kind of get some direction and then it was theirs. We were excited about that because they needed to learn. We helped a little bit, like you needed a permit to put it up on the wall. We did a little bit of the legwork, but they did everything else.”

Cyr credited her team of 15 team members in the creation of the mosaic.

“Quite a few of them are here at the moment, but quite a few of them aren’t actually in Lethbridge,” she said. “We had one in Nova Scotia and we had a couple in Calgary and a couple in B.C. There were a lot of Zoom calls. They’ve been awesome. I couldn’t have asked for a better IME team. I’m really excited to see where all my classmates go in the future because I know working with them to create this, they’re going to be good in whatever career they decide to do.”

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