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OUR Center welcomes patrons back with art

The top 10 languages spoken in Longmont fill in parts of the main room mural

“Welcome,” is more than just a word at Longmont’s OUR Center it is the way the center greets the community.

The OUR Center had to shut its doors at the beginning of the pandemic while quickly learning to pivot its services to an outdoor setting. 

Over the last few months, the center has been able to reopen some of its in-person services, beginning with 

“In our discussions about what our reopening looks like … we knew that we not only wanted to spruce things up but we wanted to create a bit of a brighter environment and create something very welcoming,” said Elaine Klotz, development director of the OUR Center.

Klotz approached the Firehouse Art Center with the idea of creating three murals within the building all using the theme of welcoming.

Elaine Waterman, executive director of the Firehouse Art Center, was immediately drawn to the project and saw it as a way to give back to the community. 

Keeping with the welcoming and belonging theme, Waterman researched the top 10 languages spoken in Longmont and learned how to write the word ‘welcome’ in each of them. The word welcome plays a prominent role in the first mural community members see upon walking in the door. 

The main room wall is divided into several panels displaying a combination of people, elements of nature and words of welcome. The colors were chosen to be bright enough to snag one’s attention but muted enough as to not overwhelm the senses, Waterman said. 

Just down the hall, the OUR Center chose a food-themed mural to give patrons something to enjoy while waiting in the hot meals line. Here Waterman chose a simple design to highlight where notorious foods come from. The simple design is also practical due to its location, Waterman said, “in case the OUR Center needs to touch it up in the future.” 

This mural’s completion will soon welcome patrons as the OUR Center plans to once again serve daily lunches in the coming weeks. 

The third mural will be a bit tricky, Klotz said, leading the way into the marketplace, where shoppers are able to choose foods from pantry shelves. 

Firehouse artists and interns designed a mural to portray the idea of climbing up in the world. However, this journey — like the journey we all take in life — is taken with others helping along the way. 

The murals are not just meant to be a symbol of welcoming but also a way for OUR Center staff, volunteers and community members to come together to create pieces of art. Waterman and the other Firehouse artists are busy sketching and outlining the murals, however, they are leaving bits and pieces for others to fill in, bringing in a true sense of community.

The OUR Center hopes to have the murals completed by time the building is fully reopened to the public, with an estimated timeline at the end of September, although some phases of reopening remain undecided.