Local muralist finds fulfillment in volunteering

Los Altos resident Morgan Bricca is a muralist and a volunteer at HandsOn BayArea, an organization that creates opportunities for people to volunteer, learn and lead in their communities.

Q: How long have you volunteered at HandsOn Bay Area?

A: HandsOn Bay Area has an annual Be the Change Day, asking volunteers to help with projects that can be completed in one day. Last year was the flrst year I participated.

Q: How did you hear about HandsOn Bay Area?

A: I was on an action list of the Obama campaign, which piggybacked with the HandsOn Bay Area “Be The Change Day” event to put some action into Obama’s Hope In Action platform.

Q: What tasks did you perform?

A: Costaño Elementary School in the Ravenswood School District was interested in a mural. I am a professional mural artist and I knew I could offer experience that most of the volunteers and organizers might not have.

I met with the principal of Costaño Elementary prior to the event to discuss her ideas and provide her with a concept sketch. I also supplied the paint and brushes, and completed the mural after the big volunteer day.

Q: What is your favorite part of volunteering?

A: Painting makes me happy, and it brings me additional joy to do what I love while beautifying the community. It is important to me to spend a percentage of my time and/or money using my skills and resources altruistically.

Q: What skills are needed to do this job?

A: The volunteers I worked with had limited experience with artistic painting. I mixed the paints and gave them direction and specific areas to work on. The mood was relaxed, with lots of laughing and chatting.

Q: What is the time commitment?

A: The HandsOn Bay Area Be the Change Day event is only one day. The projects are well organized, and sign-ups online are easy, with descriptions of the types of work the projects entail. I think it is a brilliant way for people to volunteer in their community.

You may volunteer for one time only as an individual, a family or with a group.

Q: What do find rewarding about this volunteer experience?

A: I was able to leave a tangible improvement on the school: a 50-foot-long mural at the front that everyone who enters and leaves can enjoy. That gives me great joy and satisfaction.

Q: How may others participate in Be the Change Day 2009?

A: Sign up at www.handsonbayarea.org for the Oct. 3 event.

More than 1,000 volunteers are needed at 24 project sites across the Bay Area.

Volunteers will renovate public schools, revitalize parks and lend a hand to many low-income and homeless families that are part of our community.

Following are a few of the projects near Los Altos:

Edison Brentwood Academy, East Palo Alto, needs the trim on the outside of the buildings and a mural painted and gardening around the school. Minimum age for volunteers is 18.

Full Circle Farm, Sunnyvale, needs volunteers to dig, plant, weed and compost on the farm that honors the region’s rich agricultural past while demonstrating how powerfully abundant its agricultural future can be.

Minimum age for volunteers is 16, volunteers under 18 must bring a signed parent/guardian consent form.

Shelter Network’s First Step for Families, Burlingame, has projects that include beautifying a room at the shelter or cleaning and organizing an apartment for a new family. Minimum age for volunteers is 18.

To contact Bricca, visit www.morganmurals.com

Carol Crites is a Los Altos resident and longtime volunteer. Send suggestions for this column to [email protected].