Four brightly colored wooden benches designed and painted by Egleston Square YMCA teens under the direction of artist Sydmarie Arroyo were delivered to the Waldren Road sitting park during the Love Your Block Day on May 21.
Urban Edge and the Eglston Square YMCA received a $1,170 grant last January from the Love Your Block program administered through the Mayors Office of Neighborhood Services.
Residents from Wardman Apartments -- owned by Urban Edge and managed under its contract with WinnResidential -- helped write the grant and planned the improvements with Urban Edge community organizer Nicole Chandler in March and April.
Sydmarie Arroyo and the Eglston YMCA presented draft ideas to the Wardman residents on March 18, designed and painted the benches -- each one featuring a black artist such as Tupac Shakur, Lauryn Hill and Prince -- at the YMCA thoughout April and early May.
A dilapidated fifth bench already on site was repaired by WinnResidential maintenance men on Saturday and a new undisclosed design begun that afternoon with neighborhood youngsters joining in with paint rollers.
Also part of the day was the planting of flowers in beds along the Waldren Road fence.
The day ended with pizza, free ice cream from JP Licks and a visit from state Rep. Liz Malia, D-Jamaica Plain.
On April 21 Egleston Square Main Streets and neighbors planted flower beds at the "stonehenge" sitting park at Atherton and Washington streets. More improvements, such as painting the granite arcs and adding a lending library will be completed within the next month. This Love Your Block grant of $2,500 was also awarded in January.
Americorps Vista volunteers Jarred Johnson and Emily March not only participated in all the planning of the Egleston projects, but got their hands dirty doing the work on both days.
Love Your Block is a resident-driven initiative of Cities of Service, a national nonprofit funded by Michael Bloomberg in 2009. Cities of Service works in partnership with the Corporation for National Community Service.