In 2021, artist Miriam Moran brought her artistic inspiration to the Cosby Avenue community with a mural outside the Mount Morah New Life Ministries building at 1024 Cosby Avenue in Cambridge.
The mural featured a portrait of and quote from Coretta Scott King, widow of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”
On Thursday, April 24, youngsters from Leonard’s Lane Boys and Girls Club and New Beginnings Youth and Family Center nearby gathered in front of the mural before bringing their own compassion into action.
Since last summer, after joining the staff of the newly opened Leonard's Lane Boys and Girls Club of Maryland, Moran has crafted programs empowering area youngsters to bring out their best in service to themselves and their community, which has been beset with even greater challenges recently, including numerous acts of tragic gun violence and loss of life.
Through her work with the area's young people, Moran and other community helpers know how vital it is to provide a fuller concept of community to the next generation and teach the means to define themselves as citizens able to impact the place they live and learn in positive ways.
As part of her mission for the youngsters to celebrate their connection to the wider world through service and art, Moran planned a program honoring April as poetry month and Earth Day. Denis Minus, the Delaware Boys and Girls Clubs artist in residence, was due to lead the kids in African hand drumming on the afternoon before Earth Day.
Unfortunately, family illness prevented him from attending. But, Moran, not missing a beat, joined with Theresa Stafford, director of the New Beginnings Youth and Family organization, also located nearby. Together, they gathered trash bags, protective gloves, and their respective youngsters to the field and neighboring homes, apartments and playground, to embark on a community trash clean-up.
After enjoying some energy building dinner inside, the kids got to fill individual pots with tiny plants and learn more about ways they and others can help the planet, including reduce, reuse, recycle and plant a tree.
After joining together at the mural for a group photo and a rousing shout-out affirming their commitment to help their community, Moran, LLB&G Club Manager Gabe Butler and Stafford, along with several moms and others led small groups across the field and around the block. The youngsters delighted on being outdoors on the beautiful spring afternoon, often skipping, but also keeping eagle eyes peeled at the ground for litter, stopping down over and over to fill up their bags.
As the kid clean-up crews fanned out from their starting point at the mural, Stafford stopped momentarily to get a picture of it. A man heading out from the minimart next door called across to her, thanking her over and over for what the youngsters were doing, telling her how much it's needed, and how happy he was to see it.
Stafford thanked him and mentioned that they planned, in the near future, to block off one or two area streets so the kids could safely enjoy the outdoors.
Among the grown-ups accompanying the group was Gray Jimenez of World Wide Hope, an international organization dedicated to teaching care for the Earth through creative recycling.
For more information, visit the Facebook pages of Leonard’s Lane Boys and Girls Club, New Beginnings Youth and Family Service, and WorldWide Hope.