Arc members relish mural


Sisters' volunteer abstract lauded as `exciting, vibrant, beautiful'

December 08, 2006|By Janet Gilbert

It just flows out of her like a concert pianist," said Cindy Devereux of her sister Terry's drawing talent, on display in the new mural they painted together for the day room at The Arc of Howard County.

"It's just a doodle," said Terry Junggust.

If it's a doodle, it's a doozy. The mural is 25 feet long and 5 feet tall; a striking abstract of geometric shapes, whorls, spirals and florals in colors that Devereux describes as "true, clear, bold and intense."

The mural was a volunteer project of the two Glenwood sisters, who have owned a decorative painting company, "Urban Colors" for the past 15 years. The conduit for the concept was Devereux's long-time friendship with Linda Congedo, volunteer coordinator for The Arc of Howard County.

"We met when our girls were in preschool together," Congedo said.

At an evening get-together, Congedo was describing the scope of her new position as volunteer coordinator to Devereux. The Arc of Howard County, on Homewood Road in Ellicott City, is the local chapter of a national organization committed to improving the lives of individuals with developmental and cognitive disabilities. In Howard County, The Arc serves more than 2,000 individuals and their families each year by providing family support services, respite care, residential care, day services and recreational programs, as well as employment support.

"It's the largest and oldest nonprofit in Howard County," said Congedo.

"I was just so moved," said Devereux, of Congedo's account of The Arc's mission. She mentioned that she and Junggust had been looking for a meaningful volunteer project.

"I thought, `We could volunteer to paint,'" said Devereux. "They [The Arc's residential homes] must need paint - we'll paint a house." A paint job, however, is something that can be accomplished by any willing volunteer with a roller and a paint bucket. Devereux and Junggust, who specialize in faux finishes and color design, thought about doing a mural instead.

"We like to make people happy with color," Devereux said.

"They're the happy sisters," added Congedo.

Junggust had recently completed a mural for a client, and she brought in some photographs to show Kari Ebeling, development specialist at The Arc. It turns out that Ebeling had been considering the possibility of a mural in the day room; a program area where people who come to The Arc's day services meet to do crafts, eat lunch, socialize and enjoy enriching programs.

"It just kind of came together," Devereux said.

Ebeling, Congedo and the sisters agreed on some design parameters. "We didn't want something juvenile - it's not a day program for children," said Ebeling.

Of the completed design, Ebeling said: "It's exciting, vibrant, beautiful. ... It's so many things."

In early October, Junggust and Devereux began working. They had access to the area daily after 3 p.m. until about 7 p.m. and on the weekends they worked between 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. or 8 p.m. They prepped the wall - formerly a neutral cream tone - and hand-selected approximately 20 colors, including custom-mixed shades. Next, Junngust began sketching.

"I'm amazed that she free-hands it," said Ebeling.

It took Junngust about four hours to sketch the design on the wall, and then it was time to get going on the intricate painting. Devereux estimates that the mural used about a half a quart of each shade of the Sherwin Williams interior acrylic paint. "We'd start out with one shape [area on the mural], and decide, what color do we want in that shape?" said Devereux. "We wanted to have different color combinations in every shape."

"But it's got to be balanced," said Junggust. She and her sister would often step back to be sure the mural was working the way they had intended, with every shape standing out. Most of the painting was done with small artist's brushes, though Junngust was able to use a one-inch brush some of the time. Devereux said it took 200 hours to complete the mural.

Sometimes, staff members from The Arc would point out their favorite color combinations and even pitch in a little. "I got to do three little strips [on the mural]," said program coordinator Sherri Addison of Cooksville.

"It's brought so much light and brightness to the room - it's like a ray of sunshine in there."

Junggust and Devereux thrived on the positive feedback. "With most of our jobs, we go in as strangers, leave as family," said Devereux. "You get close to people in their homes."

She and her sister felt the same way about their time at The Arc.

"It's been the most positive, fulfilling experience," said Devereux.

Not only for the sisters, apparently.

"They have been so supportive to the staff, the staff has been inspired by them," said Ebeling. "The kindness that volunteers spread [at The Arc] engenders a sense of community."

Leon Spell, 60, of Ellicott City, attends the day services at The Arc, and helped put some finishing touches on the mural. "It makes me smile," he said. "I like all of it. It makes me feel real good."

The "happy sisters" couldn't be happier.

To volunteer at The Arc of Howard County, call volunteer coordinator Linda Congedo at 410-730-0638, ext. 226.


Is someone in your neighborhood worth writing about? Is there an event that everyone in Howard County should be aware of? If there is, Janet Gilbert, our neighbors reporter, wants to know about it.

E-mail Janet at, or call 410-313-8276. Janet also has a Web site: www.janet

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