WATSONVILLE — Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance strives to provide young people with positive social activities and programs to support their well-being while steering them away from the criminal life.
So when the organization was approached by Paul De Worken of Monterey Bay Murals about hosting a mural painting day, PVPSA knew such an activity would fall in perfectly with its mission.
“What better way to do that than being a part of a community mural project?” said PVPSA Program Manager Adriana Mata.
The fourth annual Watsonville Community Mural Paint Day will take place Monday beginning at 9 a.m. at PVPSA’s 335 East Lake Ave. location. All ages are invited to paint at the event, which is presented by Monterey Bay Murals and UC Santa Cruz Alternative Spring Break. No experience is necessary.
The community mural day got its start four years ago, when De Worken said he was contacted by UCSC’s Alternative Spring Break Program, where a large group of the university’s students spend a week in Watsonville helping out in classrooms and other community projects.
The first mural paint day took place at the community center on Davis Avenue, and then moved to an alley in the area of upper Rodriguez Street. Last year’s event was held at Hazelwood Park, and despite the rain, 280 people showed up and finished painting 10 “mini murals” along a roughly 100-foot fence, De Worken said.
“This has been evolving on its own,” he said. “It’s not just my show. It’s the community that makes it successful.”
For Monday’s event, De Worken will be joined by local artists such as Jaime Sanchez, who will lead groups in painting different sections of the 40-foot-long fence adjacent to PVPSA’s office. Students from various schools will be helping out with the work throughout the day.
Mata said such a project will give young people a sense of ownership in the mural, giving them pride in a landmark they helped create. It also aims to bring the neighborhood together, which has seen its share of vandalism and other criminal activity over the years, she added.
“We want the youth to be able to do something positive, while also beautifying our neighborhood,” she said. “We want to make sure the community knows this is a safe space.”
Finance and Operations Manager Fish Williams agreed.
“We are a part of this community,” he said. “We are in this neighborhood and an anchor point for the community.”
The mural day comes at a busy time for PVPSA, as its expanded second location is currently under construction at 411 East Lake Ave. Organization officials say the facility will offer a central location for staff and space for support groups, therapy sessions and community gatherings.
Williams said the goal is to have construction completed in late November.
De Worken said paint and brushes will be provided at Monday’s event, and volunteers will be treated to donuts, bagels, coffee and orange juice in the morning, as well as lunch. A local guitarist will also be serenading the workers with soothing tunes.
“For the people that are here, they enjoy it, they talk amongst each other, they’re learning how to paint murals,” he said. “I always get the feedback that it’s so calming. It’s meditative.”
For information about the Watsonville Community Mural Paint Day, call De Worken at 600-5445.