April 23, 2014

Hundreds of creative, colorful stars and other patterns, hand-painted by youngsters onto 6-by-6-inch ceramic square tiles, currently adorn an entryway wall at the Milagro Center in Delray Beach, Fla. DPR had a major hand making the new tile wall a reality for the center, an organization supported by the DPR Foundation.

On a Saturday in early April DPR employees spent time installing the tiles as well as a much-needed custom storage cabinet for the Milagro Center’s volunteer coordinator.

The watercolor painted tiles not only serve to brighten the physical environment of the center where local disadvantaged youth enjoy after-school arts and education programs, but they also represent a source of pride for the 30 or so elementary-age students that use the center each day. The new display wall offers them the opportunity to publicly showcase their emerging artistic abilities in a setting that elevates art and music education. For many of those children, the Milagro Center provides a vital supplement to public schools that have cut art and music programs in recent years.

The children were reportedly delighted when they saw their handiwork up for the first time the following Monday. “I heard from the volunteer coordinator when the students started showing up after school that they were thrilled to see the (formerly) blank wall covered with their colorful tiles,” DPR's Milagro Center liaison Luke Stocking says.

Stocking’s own volunteer work with the Center initially began about a year ago when he helped out with renovation needs as the Center was readying its previous facility for sale. Over the last two months or so, he has committed time each week to meeting with and mentoring the students after school. The personal reward of spending time with the youth has been priceless, he says.

“The children at this center are from working class families, and their parents often have two or three jobs,” Stocking says. “Just being able to see their faces light up when an adult goes there to spend time with them, whether it’s helping with math homework or playing Monopoly, it’s a great feeling. It’s really fulfilling to see people be truly happy that you’re there just to spend time.”

And there is much more planned in the months ahead. DPR is working in partnership with other local community businesses including Bank of America to provide career development sessions at the Milagro teen center, located in a separate building nearby. Tentatively scheduled for May through August, once a month DPR employees will conduct an hourlong session to discuss the opportunities in construction and share the many diverse roles available in the industry.

The Milagro Center is one of 15 youth organizations nationally awarded a total of $900,000 in grants by the DPR Foundation in December 2013. Over the past six years, the Foundation has awarded more than $3.2 million to 22 different organizations focused on providing community support to grade school and high school-aged children.