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West Cook YMCA

255 S Marion St, Oak Park, IL 60302

Project Description:

Service above self strengthens communities. This amalgam of the rotary club and YMCA’s motto is the thesis of Off the Wall’s most recent project. In celebration of Rotary's 100th anniversary and the YMCA’s 115th, this mosaic captures the combined missions of the organizations to commemorate and honor the services provided by them respectively. We did this by showing the people impacted by their services of all diversities. We put emphasis on the diversity of the cast to show the responsibility to be welcoming to all that these organizations follow. We put rotary wheels around each scene to illustrate the philosophy of each organization. Inhabitants within communities are similar to rotary wheels, each wheel works off the other in order for the machine to operate. The teeth must reach out to each other to become something greater than the sum of its parts. We must aid each other in order for our communities to grow. The YMCA and the Rotary Club are the interstitial tentacular of society, providing aid in between the gaps of communities by reaching out to them. These wheels show the different aspects of said communities, and how the Rotary Club and the YMCA influence the wheels to power the community machine. 

The wall begins with a girl blowing bubbles out of a rotary wheeled bubble wand. She represents the receivers of the services provided by the YMCA and the Rotary Club. She blows the bubbles to appreciate the benefactions made possible by these organizations by showing how they have impacted her community. Both the YMCA and the Rotary Club empower the youth through a number of programs. She gives back to these contributions to the future by honoring them. 

The next wheel shows a father and son reading a special dictionary. The dictionary depicted is the same one from a Rotary project called the dictionary project. It aimed to provide dictionaries for underprivileged children in third grade. As two of the apprentices have received these same books in third grade and with the discontinuation of the program, we wanted to immortalize its impact. The YMCA also improves the education of children by providing after school tutoring and mentoring programs. Both organizations value education and the bonds created by small moments like this scene. 


The next wheel captures a stretching woman in a wheelchair. She represents these organizations helping the differently abled, those who are physically and/or mentally disabled or diseased. Both organizations make huge efforts to be inclusive of all, including the differently abled; they aim to be inclusive to all either through funding research to fight noxious diseases or providing space for children with special needs to have a prom. The wheel right after is of an elderly man stretching doing chair yoga. He represents the elders who give back to their community, as no matter the age, anyone can give back to their community. Both the elder stretching and the woman in the wheelchair are passing a rotary wheel between each other to show the continuous cycle of service above self to strengthen the community. 

The next rotary wheel depicts a girl flexing her left arm. This confident and assertive stance illustrates female empowerment. This is conceived from women joining the rotary in 1987, which not only boosted membership but also pushed for female entrepreneurship. This part was also inspired by the creation of the YWCA, which focuses on combating sexism and racism. While both started as male exclusive organizations, both have progressed to include the diverse viewpoints and membership of the organizations' futures, showing that all hands are needed to power and strengthen communities. 

Last is the volunteer with a shovel. He represents the volunteering aspects of both organizations. Both the Rotary Club and YMCA aid communities through providing volunteering like well digging for people with no access to water or providing transport for those without access to transportation. This volunteering plants the foundation for communities, watering the seeds for a better future through service in a community. 


A community is defined in a multitude of ways, but one common factor lies within every definition: communities are defined by the inhabitants, not the physical area. It is up to the members of a community to not only define it but build it and grow it for all to prosper. The YMCA and the Rotary Club serve as examples of how communities should be; communities should be selfless, aiding those in need with any amount of aid at one’s disposal. That might be providing money to organizations dedicated to helping others or creating those programs to aid others in their numerous needs. As a community, it’s important that we celebrate people who give so much to the less fortunate, for their invaluable services are the building blocks of long lasting, prosperous communities. 


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