By: Carole Sharwarko

HF Chronicle March 10, 2020

This spring, you have the chance to paint a piece of public art that supports an important community cause.

“Benches for Change” is the latest in annual installations sponsored by the Homewood Business Association that highlights aspects of the neighborhood with resident-created art.

This year the project provides benches you can purchase, paint and have displayed around town. Benches must be purchased by Sunday, March 15, at UpsaDaisy Boutique, 18100 Martin Ave. They will arrive, unassembled, in about two weeks.

Benches available for purchase will arrive unfinished, ready to be assembled and painted. This is an image of the actual bench. (Provided photo)
Benches available for purchase will arrive unfinished, ready to be assembled and painted. This is an image of the actual bench. (Provided photo)

Previous years have recognized South Suburban Humane Society with painted dogs and cats for “Pets on Parade,” and Cancer Support Center featuring uniquely decorated “Chairs With a Purpose.” Those fundraisers saw 30 to 40 items painted, with thousands of dollars raised.

This year, the project turns the town’s attention to South Suburban Family Shelter, an agency located in Homewood that provides education and resources to end the cycle of domestic violence.

The benches are part of recognizing the organization’s 40th anniversary in 2020, according to Brittany Williams, the agency’s events manager.

“With it being our 40th anniversary we stepped back and looked at what really makes us a staple in this area,” Williams said.

Benches supply a space for reflection, observation and rest — things SSFS provides to its clients who often are immersed in chaotic situations.

“It’s a two-seater bench, supplying that message that you’re never alone,” Williams said. “We’re trying to do for this town what we’ve done for so many people.”

Anyone from individuals and families to businesses, churches and youth groups can buy an unpainted bench for $150.

You’ll have about a month-and-a-half to paint the bench with a design of your choosing. Then benches will go to Homewood Auto Body to receive a two-step topcoat to make them durable outdoors.

Completed benches will be unveiled on June 5 during the Art & Garden Fair, then displayed throughout town over the summer.

Finally, during Fall Fest on Sept. 26 the benches will be auctioned, with proceeds benefiting SSFS. Winners of the benches can choose to leave them in town or relocate them to their home or business.

Williams said bench design possibilities are “limitless,” as long as they are kept tasteful. People may choose to include an inspirational message, a family crest, an abstract design or another representational image.

“Over at Jonathan Kane Salon, I know they’re having a contest among the staff to come up with the design for their bench,” Williams said.

Hopefully, she said, the vibrant benches will pique the interest of people doing business, shopping and dining in Homewood, who will then learn the connection to SSFS.

“People will start thinking about us when they’re doing things downtown,” Williams said. “The fact that it’ll come back to us is fun, and hopefully start that conversation about what we do as an organization.”