Tacoma artist Lynn Di Nino is leading the charge in a community art project for the City of Lakewood’s first-ever event Sept. 15 to welcome troops home from Afghanistan. The goal – for people across the South Sound, or anywhere for that matter, to help make approximately 4,000 (or more) yellow flowers to decorate an arch for the front of the main stage.
“People in the community can express their own caring by doing this,” Di Nino said, as the finished product – the decorative arch with thousands of flowers – will have a high visual impact and allow for many people to welcome the service members home. “We want everyone in the community to express their gratitude that these troops have returned safely.”
All you need are two materials – anything yellow that can be made into a flower and pipe cleaners (preferably green). Di Nino encourages recycling – yellow wrapping paper (predominately yellow), crepe paper, tissue paper, yellow plastic bags (like the kind from Grocery Outlet), feathers, old yellow tablets, plastic tablecloths, fabric, newsprint (not newspaper) spray painted yellow (afterward), and even silk/plastic flowers can be part of the mix if you have some lying around. It’s important to use something bendable (like green pipe cleaners) to make the flowers so that they can be securely fastened to the chicken wire stage arch.
Looking through the boxes and bags full of flowers made so far reveals a multitude of textures, styles and shades of yellow. Some are even made with gold-glittered paper, which blends in beautifully with the yellow flowers. “Everybody can do them according to their skill level,” Di Nino says. “We are finding that napkins work the best because they look so great.”
The deadline is Sept. 1 to have all the flowers made. There are two drop-off points where finished flowers can be delivered, and Di Nino asks that flowers be packed in boxes in order to protect them: Washington Women’s Employment and Education (WWEE) at 3516 S. 47th St., Suite 205, Tacoma, WA 98409; and Little Church on the Prairie at 6310 Motor Ave. S.W., Lakewood, WA 98499.
THE RAIDERS RETURN
The Raiders Return Welcome Home Event on Sept. 15 is being organized by the City of Lakewood in cooperation with the 4-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT), the Lakewood Sub-Chapter of the Association of the US Army (AUSA), and other community partners. The day will include two welcome home events for the 4-2 SBCT after their nine-month deployment to Afghanistan. First up will be a Raider Welcome Home Parade starting at 9 a.m. The route will go from the Lakewood Police Department (Lakewood Drive and 95th St.) to City Hall (6000 Main St. S.W.).
Mary Dodsworth, director of parks, recreation and community services for the City of Lakewood, said the parade will be all about the troops, with about 2,000 of them marching. “It’s really a procession of the troops,” she said.
The Raider Welcome Home Celebration will then start at 1 p.m. at Fort Steilacoom Park (9200 Steilacoom Blvd. S.W.) and run until 6 p.m. There will be music and entertainment; a public market full of arts and crafts vendors and booths representing non-profits and businesses; a motorcycle rally sponsored by Northwest Harley Davidson; kids inflatables and a petting zoo; a classic car display with police, fire and EMT vehicles; competitive activities like baseball throws and tug-of-war; a beer garden and more.
Dodsworth said the city isn’t planning for this to be an annual event, as it is being held for the specific purpose of welcoming home the 4-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team. “It’s a way of just saying welcome home and thank you for your service and to recognize those lost to the battle.”
Di Nino’s involvement in this project stems from her participation in the American Leadership Forum (http://www.alfnational.org), which works to connect and strengthen diverse leaders for the public good in their own local communities. Di Nino is part of the just-graduated ALF Class XIX and as they are required to do a project to enforce their learning, her class chose to support RallyPoint/6 and this organization’s part in the Raiders Return Welcome Home Event. Headquartered in Lakewood, RallyPoint/6 is a new non-profit consortium of public, private and community partners in Washington State working to help returning veterans with reintegration issues. RallyPoint/6 is, in the simplest terms, a “one-stop shop” resource center for active and reserve military, veterans and their families.
Developed by a coalition of more than 55 veteran and military-serving organizations, nonprofits and government agencies, RallyPoint/6 aims to inspire, equip and mobilize veterans to engage their local communities through meaningful service in eight impact areas: community, reintegration, employment, education, family strength, health/behavioral health, finance/legal, housing stability, and volunteerism. ALF Class XIX is assisting RallyPoint/6 reach military, veterans and families at the welcome home event.
Sponsors are still needed for the Raiders Return Welcome Home Event, and space is still available for those non-profits or businesses that wish to participate in the public market. Visit http://www.cityoflakewood.us for applications and additional information. To learn more about RallyPoint/6, visit http://www.theunfinishedmission.org.
Di Nino’s next flower making workshop will be held on July 22 from 6-9 p.m.