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Return From Covid Prep: Paix Et Fraternite

One of the more difficult questions to answer about our Honduras Outreach team trips is “So what do you do while you’re down there?”

Well “what we do” is inspire positive leadership through service and communities of need. We share ideas, we make connections between groups to share strengths, and to build greater understanding. We build fellowship between ourselves and our international hosts. We try to inspire them, and support their local communities, and bring that experience back to inspire our efforts in our own communities. Typically that’s not the answer that is being sought with that question. People generally want to hear that we travel to a far-off community, that we stay in gardening program that teaches communities about sustainable agriculture, helps them plant community gardens to feed the needy, and supports local needs for education and healthcare.

Every trip is different and how we express our organization’s mission, because the people who make up each team generally have different strengths, and abilities and find inspiration in different ways. Our outreach teams form months before we get to the airport, in the manner that we use to recruit participants and generate resources to bring with us. That’s what is happening here.

As artists, Tom and Cristhian are using their strengths to build opportunity. A local mural designed by Tom and created with the support of positive street art and volunteers from the community had reached the end of its lifespan. There was an opportunity to restore or replace it with the partnerships that Tom had maintained since around the beginning of our first Honduras Outreach teams. The Richelieu Club of Nashua Is a group of citizens dedicated to the celebration of Franco nashuan culture, part of an international fellowship of francophony, celebrating french culture around the world.

Tom, Cristhian, and the Richelieu Club developed a mural design to continue the theme of the one being replaced and to add to the environment of the park in which it was placed. This new mural is called “Paix et Fraternité” The slogan of the Richelieu Club and the theme of Peace and brotherhood. It’s showcases different people from Nashua’s history who have contributed to or accomplish things that positively reflect on Franco nashuan history.

Tom and Cristhian began by priming the wall in the colors of the French flag to match the rest of the park and neutralize the surface that had resulted from years of erosion on the previous mural. Cristhian has been sketching the images featured in the mural at evening time, and fleshes out the designs during the day.

We are looking forward to being able to show you “What we do” When we are in Honduras, and we are accepting applications for our 2022 trip. But it’s a long road before we arrive at the airport, and this is how we get there!

2021 Return From Covid19 Prep: The Self Parade

Tom and Cristhian are getting ready for their September 2021 trip. These trips take months of planning and preparation and due to the uncertainty of covet involved to impact decided to allow an informal trip with alumni from past trips who were willing. In order to raise money for his plane ticket, Christian is working with Tom on a number of projects, and waiving reimbursement as an artist, to pay his way, most recently by working to create a memorial day self parade for veterans!

For more information about this self tour, it’s connection to other projects in the area and to support our work keep reading!

It is the mission of Involved to Impact, to inspire positive leadership in communities of needs and to build synergy between leaders through shared experience.

The Self Parade Is sponsored by the Rambling House, Smith-Weiss, Shepard & Spony
and Welts, White & Fontaine, with support from Aldermen Ernest Jette and Tom Lopez

In partnership with Involved to Impact, Operation Enduring Welcome, The Boys & girls Club of Greater Nashua and the city of Nashua, self parade was created by artist Cristhian Londono as an activity for volunteer youth from the Boys & girls Club of Nashua.

Due to the covid-19 epidemic, the organizers of Nashua’s annual Memorial Day celebration were unable to coordinate the participants necessary to create the annual parade, so we made a small scale alternative for veterans living on factory Street as well as nashua residents at large.

Downtown parking barriers, placed to allow traffic redirection due to seasonal outdoor dining provide an opportunity for positive artistic messaging. On the external surface facing the road are patriotic designs along the theme of stars and stripes. On the inside pedestrian side facing the sidewalks are positive and inspiring messages from youth to veterans. It’s location on Factory Street allows veterans coming from the Dalainis house downtown to view these messages as they pass by.

Involved to impact is proud to be the current fiscal agent for Operation Enduring Welcome.

Initially started as a partnership between neighbors to decorate a residential program for homeless veterans for Christmas.. Operation Enduring Welcome really found its voice After positive street arts highly successful hearts and minds mural series.

Hearts and Minds, like Tom and Cristhian’s current project and like Operation Enduring Welcome, began with neighbors helping a community of veterans. A wall outside Dalainis house was tagged, above the veterans, favorite place to sit outside, criticizing the community for forgetting an abandoning them.

Ric Everhard and daughter Gianna consider the space they have transformed

This resonated with Tom and he organized positive street artist Ric Everhard and Raphael Calderon to help build on the message that was presented in a manner that veterans who live there could be proud of. The result was the first hearts and minds mural, the Patriot. It effectively transformed a space that was vacant and abandoned into a point of pride around which veterans were able to gather for years.

The second hearts and minds mural was meant for the community, a prompt to thank veterans for the service they give to the community in protecting our freedoms, located off of Water Street it is highly visible and features all branches of the military at the time. It included many different members of the community, including artist Kristen Wolfe, who has since, sadly passed, Tom Lopez and Lee Colon, lead by Positive Street Artist Manuel Ramirez.

And organizing the funding for it and executing the mural, positive street art worked with the veterans of Delainis House, Who were very protective of the mural as it was being created and supportive of artists working in extreme heat, providing water and first responder support when needed. A 4th of July event series including a hot dog eating contest a concert and a mural tour engaged veterans in what would begin an annual 4th of July event, positive street art began to realize its vision for this series to inspire a passion for urban arts in a productive way, and build stronger communities between artists and veterans

The third and most ambitious hearts and minds mural is located on Quincy Street across from the post office on the wall of Nashua foundry. This piece features members of all service branches at the time as well as scen es including their families. The Promise represents the commitment to keep veterans forever in our hearts and minds as they kept us in theirs, during their service. Supported by the VFW American legion, City of Nashua and with representatives of veterans from all service branches in existence at the time, the promise endures as one of Nashua’s largest and most appreciated murals. The 4th of July celebrations continued and with new partners began a new ongoing tradition that was taken up by Operation Enduring Welcome. OEW was founded in 2018 to build stronger partnerships between veterans and communities with quarterly events for veterans at Dalainis house as well as efforts to cultivate stronger ties to local businesses, for veterans.

If you would like to support 4th of July/ Enduring Hearts and Minds mural, please Subscribe to Operation Enduring Welcome, to sponsor this project click the button below!

Donate

2020 HOT

Today is our team’s first full day in Honduras. Juana was fully rested from travel, as evidence by energetic knocking on Tom’s door, looking for coffee. Luis met Marvin and Cristhian and went to Luis’ studio to work on sketches for this year’s first mural, at a nearby soccer stadium. We also took a look at some of our older murals at the Hogar which will need replacing.

This is Lent, so we attended church with the community as well, before lunch.

After Church we took a tour around the city, and we went over our supplies. One of our bottles of paint opened on the way down, but we had packaged everything so that all we had to do was let the paint dry and then reclaim everything inside. After that we went to play Soccer!

After we finished Soccer, we has dinner at a nearby spot. The food was great, and the company was better!

We returned to the Hogar to plan for the next day. Tom went with Cristhian and Marvin to work on some mural prep with Luis. Using a projector we were able to presketch tomorrow’s plan on the wall.

2020 Day 1

It’s all about the travel the first day. This year we are a new group, travelling together for the first time. We caught the first plane out of Boston for Atlanta Georgia.

We landed early in Atlanta, but Juana used the time well, helping a guy we met disembarking, find his way to his plane heading to El Salvador. We boarded the plane for our seats in the far back. Apparently sitting in the back gives you free leftovers, either that or the Steward really liked Tom who had several juices, two free coffees and an extra granola bar. Landing in Honduras we were reminded that world is watchful for the Corona virus, especially a country with a limited health care structure. Also They Are Concerned In Honduras Too.

We have arrived!
Well alright, we had five more hours of driving.

OEW Floor Wars!

Floor Wars Episode IV!

Dalanis is decorated for the holidays! On November 30th, the Tree Amigos team decorated Dalainis’ Common Area to kick off the holiday festivities.

Then for the next three weeks Veterans used decorations donated by the community, including four artificial trees by Ward 3 Alderman and State Representative, Patricia Klee. On December 19, Judges, including Alderman Klee, NH State Senator Cindy Rosenwald, OEW President Amber Logue, and Jo Anne St. John found the Fourth Floor winners of Floor Wars, Episode IV!

Special thanks to our donors:

Senator Cindy Rosenwald

JoAnn StJohn

Susan Turmel

Richard daSilva

Tom Lopez

Cole Morgan

Amber Logue

Pine St Eatery
Bagel Alley
CourtHouse Pizza
Calif Burritos
Fratellos
Norton’s
Chick n Chips
JaJa Belles
Sopranos
Martha’s

Next up is our Superbowl Chili Cookoff in 2020, if you are interested in donating or participating to support this event, email us atoperationenduringwelcome@gmail.com

We will return!

Our final day was basically lots of driving and lots of airport

We talked about the trip on our way to Tegucigalpa and plans for next year. We also shared some interesting sights.

Then it was all just airports and boarding passes. We bid farewell to Mario and entered customs.

We had a last team dinner at the blue moon brewery at the Atlanta Airport. Tom finally broke a several year streak of getting hung up in immigration. It was past midnight when we landed.

Next year’s projects include a Spanish books drive, a lap top drive, we are hoping to send a pallet of donations around November with extra paint for Luis. We will be doing presentations on our trip over the next few months and recruiting new team members. Keep an eye on our Facebook page and the events page here, thank you for your support!

2019 trip Day 7 Involved to Impact

It is our final work day, so we are concentrating on the final mural at the library. We had pancakes for breakfast with the staff of Hogar Los Ninos. When we arrived on site, it was straight to work. Luis worked on a mural depicting Robin Hood, Jyl a mural with many creative stories coming from a book, Drok painted the door and Sam painted a cloudy background with Tom, and then the alphabet.

Isella joined us just before lunch and started working on another piece while Tom and Drok painted the back wall and Sam finished her letters.Reporters came to interview again, to spread the word of the projects we have been doing. Profelita came with a class full of students to thank is and to present us with a snack.Lunch was great, Listenia cooked something special for each of us, Jyl and Mario brought it back for us to eat on site. Sam initiated an impromptu dance party with Luis and Isella, then with the arrival of Erika Karolina, Arte Positivo member since the beginning, we were back to work

Alfredo came as well, he admired the work of artists. Luis affirmed there as a musician, Alfredo is an artist as well. It brought to mind the elements of hip hop that Universal Zulu Nation conceptualizes. Bboys (Dancers) Graffiti, DJ, and MC. A holistic view of what we see in Honduras is singing, dancing, instruments, and painting, though there are many more elements, craftsmanship, sculpture, and more. Luis invited us to his tv show after painting, which he runs every Tuesday night. We were able to talk about art and the kind of work our team has helped accomplish over the years.

When we returned we had dinner and made plans for where to send any leftover supplies we brought. We also talked about plans to keep in touch throughout the year with Microchip, with Luis, and to maintain the connections we had built upon.

Sam successfully completed her second trip, and her project as lead. She joins the ranks of Nashua HOT alumni who realize in a deep way, that the world we visited marches on as we return to our own. The need remains, the passion is real and the courage to push fear aside, and lead, is something we all have waiting to be rekindled. We are connected, even as elements of art make up hip hop, leadership is made up of many expressions of service, meeting need.

We all made a choice to get involved in the lives of others. We brought what we had, we prepared as best we could, and we made a positive impact in the lives of many.

2019 trip Day 6 Renewal

This morning we tackled Sam’s return project. Last year she took note of this playground at a Kindergarten.So this year we planned to restore it to a place children could play. The Hondurans started by painting the wall and equipment. We spent the morning removing construction debris, including a couple hundred pounds of moldy asbestos roofing.Sam interviewed as spokesperson, for two local news stations to raise awareness of what we are doing and the projects underway here in the community.We picked up three truckloads of debris and brought them to a nearby landfill.While a better location than a kindergarten playground, this field is a dump site which is eventually burned via controlled fire. Nothing as organized or environmentally friendly as we are used to in Nashua, where trash is sorted, incinderated, recycled, compacted landfilled and monitored.Tomorrow we will be laying down fresh turf and soil to make the ground a little safer for young children.We returned to the Hogar Los Ninos for lunch and a siesta, the temperature was mid nineties today so working with the sun at it’s peak was not a good idea.Drogon didn’t mind the heat at all.Our afternoon project is at a school library. We met the principal and many students, whom Sam entertained and quizzed.Then we got to work prepping the site, moving booksheves and furniture, cleaning and priming the wall.Drok taught a pop up dance class when kids started to get really curious as school let out.We also bumped into 2.0, a boy interested in break dancing on Drok’s first trip. As always, Drok brought him shoes.Then we had dinner at Karina’s coffee shop down the street from the Hogar.Los MicroChip was waiting for us at the Hogar when we returned. Their dance practice was cut short by news of a personal tragedy.

As a team, we do extend our best wishes to them. We are guests in their community, they have made us welcome, we share their pain.

2019 trip Day 5 The Summit

We have passed the halfway point of the trip, today is a day of rest and celebration. Drok was not quite ready to emerge renewed but was on he mend. It is Easter Sunday, so of course we went to celebrate Easter mass with the community.

We encountered a surprise in the form of Father Dan St. Laurence, founder of project Eden, former pastor of St. Louie’s church in Nashua.

We picked up Drok and went to have lunch. In observance of Easter, many shops and restaurants were closed, but we found one.

We spent the afternoon at the Hogar planning our last two days. We hard-boiled and colored Easter eggs to surprise Listenia, our cook. We reunited with Oscar as well who watches the Hogar at night.

The summit is always better sweet, it is the height of the mountain, with the best view of what came before and what comes ahead, we are nearing the final stretch of our work week. The team is recharged and refocused, tomorrow we will work on the playground and more murals

2019 Trip Day 4 She The Change!

Drok had a rough night, he couldn’t keep food down. We travel with anti biotics in the event that we accidently eat or drink something that makes us sick. The local water has bacteria we aren’t used to. Travelling through airports and sharing space on airplanes with people from around the world can cause any number of issues. Drok wasn’t running a temperature so we gave him ibuprofren, Pepto bismol, Gatorade and extra rest in the morning.

We worked on the elemtary school murals, using Jyl’s design, to compliment last year’s mural, while Luis and Arte Positivo did panels wrapping around the building.Sam started a city wide search for coffee, and several Hondurans obliged, we we’re visited by a tourist from Miami, and John, a regular volunteer living in San Francisco.At one it was time for lunch. We were painting next to the park where the Festival was planned, and teams from the other cities, Juticalpa and Catacamas were already arriving. Drok was back on his feet so we cleaned up the murals and started getting ready.

Jyl’s mural from last year in back, with this year on the closer wall in front.
Involved To Impact

A few days ago, we talked about a cultural issue we had noticed for years. Last year we only saw two girls on the dance teams that came, it’s a tricky balance encouraging movements with self determination. We don’t want to impose our own ideas and disempower them.Samantha had a very frank conversation with Microchip on Thursday night about girls and dance. Microchip agreed, they were aware their group had gotten very macho, but they didn’t know any girls that wanted to learn to dance.Tom pointed out he had tackled this in past years. Girls will play soccer in Honduras and are very athletic up until their teens, and then they segregate and don’t engage. Microchip added that when some girls were interested, they had ultimately been pushed out of it by jealous boyfriends or husbandsA past effort was to try to introduce cheerleading at games as a bridge to dance, but the project was never really continued.

Tom pointed out that engaging girls that were younger, in a school setting might work culturally. Parents weren’t likely to let their daughters hang out with a group of older teenage boys unsupervised, or even after dark, which is when Microchip practices.Sam can’t change the world alone, but she IS involved to impact, so she lead by example. Sam had been training with Drok for a few weeks, with her own background in dance and Drok’s ability to coach, she used the opportunity to make a point. Sam free styled as the solo female participant in the festival.Sam, and Drok judged. Despite his unsettled stomach Drok was determined to support the dance movement. Now on his fourth trip he is greatly respected by all three teams, as a coach, and certainly as a dancer having battled them all to victory the past two years. Sam, as a bilingual liason is appreciated by all, and Tom, in addition to being handy, is recognized by many on sight after many years of service trips.Los MicroChip took victory in the two on two battle. The full contest will be uploaded to this site’s gallery.Juticalpa won overall, but there was extraordinary talent and the product of incredible dedication to training on display. There were a few incidents where competition between Catacamas and Juticalpa nearly got personal, and physical, but to their credit, Los MicroChip intervened as hosts, and the judges set clear expectations that dancers would respect each other’s space on the floor, and each other as competitors.While the battle was under way Luis and Jyl were organizing art on display and activities for younger children.During a break in the dancing, Tom, Jyl and Alfredo, a musician and artist Luis invited to participate, gave a brief concert. Following the battle, some games for kids included an easter egg carry and a sack race, posted live on our Be the Change Facebook page.The second urban arts festival was a success. Dancers went home happy, and determined to train more. Artists showed their work and gained some well deserved recognition, and children had fun! In a few years, if word starts to get out, about a new b-girl movement coming out of Honduras, remember the spark. A few years ago Drok had the inspiration to come to Hondutas, and then the courage to share himself with them. Sam’s dance did not go unnoticed, in addition to earning a new respect in the eyes of the dancers present, both as a dancer and a judge, Sam’s comments made them think. In addition, there was a little girl in purple watching by the steps during the video that stayed for all the rest. Everything starts with an idea, and an example.