SOURCE: NorthEast Treatment Centers

November 15, 2010 13:31 ET

NorthEast Treatment Centers' Mural Promotes the Value of Family

PHILADELPHIA, PA--(Marketwire - November 15, 2010) -  When it comes to telling the NorthEast Treatment Centers' story, the handwriting -- or rather the picture -- is literally on the wall.

A nearly block-long mural, made of paint on cloth, stained glass, and Venetian glass tiles, blankets the façade of NET's administrative headquarters at 5th and Spring Garden Streets in Philadelphia.

The mural highlights NET's social and child-care services, which provide clients with the strength and stability of a family, according to Eric Okdeh, the local mural artist who was selected for the project. For Okdeh, the appeal of mural making lies in the collaborative process, making him the perfect choice for NET's project, which was designed to provide participants with a sense of inclusion and accomplishment.

"Many of our clients, including some youth from our in-home detention program, did the actual painting on parachute cloth, which was broken down into more manageable 5-by-7-foot sections. When they saw that their work became part of something much bigger, they were proud and amazed," says Terence McSherry, NET President and CEO.

Okdeh, who conceived of the idea for the mural along with input from NET staff, supervised it through its seven-month completion, while NET's lunchroom doubled as an art studio. Several NET staff members are portrayed in the mural. Among them is the late Pat Henry, a much-beloved NET employee, who, along with her fiancé and teenage daughter, met tragic deaths several years ago. Also memorialized on the wall is Dolores De Francesco, who was involved and supportive of NET for many decades, according McSherry, her husband. Spanning the mural is a George Bernard Show quote: "Perhaps the greatest social service that can be rendered by anybody to their country and to mankind is to bring up a family."

"Our mural, titled 'The Value of Family,' has helped NET gain visibility in the community. It appeals to foot and car traffic alike. Everybody who has seen it has been touched by it," said Sonya Mendelovich, director of NET's Wharton Residential Center.

The NET mural is one of the highlights on the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program Center City Trolley Tour, according to Jane Golden, founding director of Philadelphia Mural Arts, the nation's largest mural arts program. Philadelphia boasts about 3,000 murals that "make our city unique," Golden says. "Murals exist at the meeting point of our political, social and aesthetic worlds. They transform buildings and encourage those who create them and those who view them."

Which is just what NET envisioned when it commissioned its mural. "I think our mural will be here for a very long time, and I hope that many of the contributing artists will bring their grandchildren here to see it," said McSherry, who has served at NET's helm for three decades.

NorthEast Treatment Centers is a community-based provider of addiction, behavioral health and youth and family services in Philadelphia and the state of Delaware. For more information, call 215-451-7100 or visit www.net-centers.org.

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