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Kiwanis service project brings nature indoors in Lindenhurst

CNA SamanthWelch Zipushes Ruth Baker Lindenhurst past pond mural walkway thconnects independent apartments assisted living health care center Victory Lakes

CNA Samantha Welch of Zion pushes Ruth Baker of Lindenhurst past a pond mural in the walkway that connects the independent apartments, assisted living and health care center at Victory Lakes in Lindenhurst. | Thomas Delany Jr.~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 30, 2013 2:16AM

LINDENHURST ­— Priscilla Veidemanis knew her mural project in a tunnel deep beneath the Village at Victory Lakes was going well when she started to get requests.

“People were coming down to see it, and they’d say, ‘What’s coming next week?’” said Veidemanis, who spent her autumn and early-winter Wednesdays creating 24 individual works of art along the 175-foot pedestrian tunnel. “Then one week there was a Post-it note where somebody said they wanted to see an owl, so the next week I put in an owl. And then some people would just come up and ask, like (an employee) who asked if I could paint his black Lab, Ranger, so I did that.”

Residents, staff members and visitors are now seeing the finished product in the underground hallway, which connects Victory Lakes’ independent-living building with its assisted-living and skilled-care sections.

The project was a gesture of thanks to the Grand Avenue facility from the Lindenhurst/The Lakes Kiwanis Club, which meets the first and third Thursdays of each month in a Victory Lakes dining room. Veidemanis said she was asked to take paintbrush in hand by fellow Kiwanis member Joyce Mesrobian after enough funds were secured for materials, but not for an artist.

“I’ve been painting since I was in fifth grade or so. I’ve never done anything professionally,” the Antioch resident said. “I’ve just always loved painting, and I love to do murals.”

Prior to her tackling the job, Veidemanis said, the tunnel walls were “just a plain, dingy white (with) some green sponge painting.” The main goal of the project was to bring nature in from the outdoors for residents who need to use the tunnel either during bad weather or due to mobility issues.

Veidemanis said she arrived with her collection of paints every Wednesday morning between 8:30 and 9. Having decided to line the hallway with a series of imitation stained-glass windows, she would start with a cardboard template in the shape of a frame and then stencil in her interpretations of images she collected.

She said that most of the efforts took about four to five hours, though at least one particularly challenging piece — depicting a peacock — took eight or nine hours.

“I was tired after that one. I didn’t get home until 7 o’clock,” she said with a laugh, adding that the overall project “was a lot of fun. I loved doing it. It was a nice service project for the Kiwanis Club, (and) people who would not normally take the tunnel are using it now.”

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