NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – To some, it may just be a mural.
But to some formerly homeless families in the South Bronx, it’s finally giving them a sense of home.
“I am a master artist!” said 6-year-old Naeem Decastro, excited to paint his mark on his favorite spot — his backyard. “What I like about the backyard, I can bring down my toys, every toy I want.”
He lives with his family at the Services for the Underserved Fox Point building, supportive housing for those previously homeless. His grandmother knows exactly how long they went without a safe place to stay.
“A year and 22 days. Then I moved here,” Roxanne Stewart said. “The shelter is the scariest place I have ever been in my life.”
The families said there’s nothing scary about where they live now and they’re lucky to have an opportunity to help make it their own by painting a mural in their backyard that they’ll cherish forever.
“If my grandkids have grandkids, ‘look at what we did, look what they did,’” said resident Annette Brown.
The families weren’t painting alone. Artists from the health care advertising agency Patients & Purpose designed the mural for free and volunteered their skills.
“At the agency, we all work in different areas but we’re able to all come together to produce this piece,” art supervisor Jamie Feld said.
One volunteer in particular said it’s something he wouldn’t miss, since he grew up in the area.
“South Bronx – it made me the man I am today, and I would love to give every breath of my life to give back to the community and create more opportunities for kids,” said Joshua Ilutiza.
Thirty-one families live at the center, and many have children who use the backyard nearly every day.