Tom Heath: Good morning Tucson! It’s a beautiful Sunday in the Old Pueblo. Thank you for spending a part of your brunch our with us on your downtown Tucson Community sponsored rock and roll radio station this week. We discuss how an artist plans a mural to be painted by the community as part of the United Way’s Days of Caring.
Tom Heath: Each and every Sunday our focus is on social cultural and economic impacts in Tucson’s Urban core and we shed light on hidden gems everyone should know about. From A Mountain to the U of A and all stops in between, you get the inside track right here on 99.1 FM streaming on DowntownRadio.org also available on your iPhone or Android by using our very own radio app. Just head over to your iPhone store there or the The Google play and download Downtown Radio Tucson. Take us wherever you go. If you want to get us on the show. Our email is [email protected] interact with us on Facebook at Life along the streetcar and follow us on Twitter at streetcar life.
Tom Heath: Today is October 13th. It’s the end of a busy weekend. My name is Tom Heath. You’re listening to Life Along the Streetcar. Are we start today with some Rolling Thunder heading to Tucson? It was a joyous occasion in Promontory Summit. Just north of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. The location was 690 miles from Sacramento and a thousand 86 from Omaha. It was the perfect spot for linking the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroad’s in the Golden Spike Ceremony.
Tom Heath: This momentous day, May 10th, 1869 would cap a furious pace of railroad construction in the United States and signify the in of the Transcontinental Railroad Union Pacific is celebrating the 150th anniversary with a farewell tour of sorts. The iconic steam engine, Big Boy number 4014, is the only remaining of the original 25 Big Boy locomotives that is still in operation. Big Boy is traveling across the southwest and will be in Tucson later this week.
Tom Heath: You wonder why they call it Big Boy, because it’s a hundred and thirty-two feet long and it weighs in at a little over 1 million pounds. It’s the world’s largest steam engine. This is a tour for train Buffs for historians. And for just those of us that are curious to get a glimpse of this massive part of our transportation past. We’re actually going to have two chances. To see big boy here in Tucson Thursday the 17th. It will roll into the historic train depot that will be around 10 a.m.
Tom Heath: The historic tipos down there on tool. It’s part of that Maynard’s complex across from Hotel Congress around 10 a.m. It will make a stop. It’s not going to be there very long because there is traffic scheduled on the line, but on Friday, big boy will rest. At the rail yard on there. It’s silver lake and Fairland Strava new it’ll be there for about 9 to 3. So if you want to get a closer look you can head down there. They’re bringing along as well their new Union Pacific’s new multimedia walkthrough exhibit.
Tom Heath: It’s called experience the Union Pacific Rail car. It’s a converted baggage car and shows the history of rail in America including the technological feat. That was the Transcontinental Railroad. As a reminder the historic train depot in downtown is the home of our very own Southern Arizona transportation museum with exhibits on the impact of Transportation trains and such on our nation as well as what it did for Tucson in our community.
Tom Heath: I did speak with the director. Ken Carol’s about big boys arrival. He’s pretty excited about that and happy that they’ve chosen to make a stop at that museum spot there on Thursday actually showed me a video of the last time Union. If it came to town with a historic engine, it was a 2011 and locomotive was Living Legend number 844. It’s a massive machine can says but not nearly the size of Big Boy thousands of people came out to see living legend stop at the Depot in 2011.
Tom Heath: And if you remember our interview with mayor Rothschild just a couple weeks ago. It’s actually came up because it was one of his first sort of unofficial duties after being elected mayor, but right Before taking office. So expect another sizable crowd downtown this Thursday the 17th at the historic train depot to see big boy roll into town maybe head down there and join for a look at this rolling history, and then maybe head over to see Ken and his volunteers at the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum.
Tom Heath: Well speaking of volunteers. The United Way days of caring is on October 25th and 26th this year a couple weeks ago. We spoke about this volunteer weekend of service and the supporting projects that are happening all over Tucson. And today we’re highlighting a unique project which has come about as a collaboration among the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona 10 West impact Festival startup, Tucson. And Sakura the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance to commemorate that this is the 20th anniversary of the days of carrying a community mural project is planned for the wall of the former loss of Prima Tortilla Factory on West Simpson Street.
Tom Heath: We sat down with Melissa D’Auria from the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona to learn about the impact of Days of Caring over the last two decades, how the 20th anniversary is shaping up and what it takes to create a community painted mural.
Melissa D’Auria: My name is Melissa D’Auria and I’m the senior director of communications and marketing here at United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona.
Tom Heath: And how long have you been in this position?
Melissa D’Auria: I’ve been in this position for a little over three years. We’ve been in different marketing and public relations positions throughout Tucson for about 14 years.
Tom Heath: What What attracted you to the position?
Melissa D’Auria: I knew it would be a challenge. Just knowing what I did about United Way and how much? They’re apart of and all the different programs and initiatives trying to wrap my arms around that and then make it digestible at actually that challenge actually was exciting to me.
Tom Heath: Yeah, there’s it’s hard sometimes to explain because you can’t just say what is the United Way do it’s not an elevator speech. It’s kind of like a construction zone. You’ve got so many different parts that you manage as well
Melissa D’Auria: Yeah, but it was fun because I feel like I got to start from the ground floor and just build a foundation and build on top of that let you know just informing people that we help children. Families and seniors. That’s the bottom floor and explain that we focus on education Financial stability and healthy communities and then just to build on that.
Melissa D’Auria: I mean, we work with over 400 Community Partners and volunteers so it gets when get in the weeds real quick, but you know at the ground floor we help a hundred fifty five thousand people each year in Tucson.
Tom Heath: Without getting too far into the weeds. I think, you know anyway might be one of those organizations that isn’t really understood in the community. Everybody knows the name. Should know the name. What’s that? Net that nutshell? How do you how do you operate?
Melissa D’Auria: eah, we consider ourselves an organization that brings the community together. So we work with other nonprofits. We work with the business Community. We work with volunteers. So we take a look at the core issues facing tucsonans, which we’ve determined based on research and our relationships is education, Financial stability and healthy communities. So to take that information In our relationships and then we create large-scale projects talking to all the right people in Tucson. So we’re not we don’t have these isolated siloed Solutions and we get all the different organizations talking to working together.
Tom Heath: I think a lot. I’ve been involved with different collaborations and they seem to sort of center around the United Way as the entity that pulls them together.
Melissa D’Auria: Exactly. so we do a lot of convening here in our offices just bringing different partners together to work on Solutions and programs, but it’s not always easy to explain What it is that we do.
Tom Heath: I guess I didn’t realize this but you’re saying you focus based on your research what’s needed in Tucson? Exactly United ways across the country. They have an overall mission, but each Community then sort of establishes how they’re going to operate within that community.
Melissa D’Auria: That’s exactly right. We’re entirely focused on Tucson and Southern Arizona while United Way is a worldwide organization. We’re completely separate and only focused on what’s going to impact our community the most here, so we actually evaluate those what we call impact. Act areas each year to make sure okay. Those are the main things we need to continue to focus on.
Tom Heath: From what I understand you are so well funded you never need money from any sources.
Melissa D’Auria: Not true 🙂 But yeah, we rely heavily on the community and donations. We do apply for you know, we have a grant writing team that’s just non-stop trying to finding a new grants to fund new programs and initiatives and on top of that we do. Funds to other nonprofits in town that complement our work or that are part of different Partnerships that we focus on.
Tom Heath: Well, one of the things that I remember at United Way is they have that ability through through your payroll to to allocate funds directly, which is a huge it’s convenient and I would assume that’s a pretty big opportunity for you guys.
Melissa D’Auria: It is yeah, you know the ability to go into some of the large companies here in town and to talk about all the needs and to Tucson I mean take some of the large corporations here and people are transplanting to Tucson and we feel that we provide them an opportunity to learn about their community and learn how they can best help and give back to their Community by finding out, you know different different ways to help those that are less fortunate here and to provide volunteer opportunities. So a lot of the big the big companies and town do volunteer through us.
Tom Heath: Well speaking of volunteers, that’s primarily why I wanted to chat with you because coming up in October. An event that you hear a lot about Days of Caring. Yeah, can you share with us a little bit what that means?
Melissa D’Auria: Absolutely. So Days of Caring is two days in October where we reach out to the community to nonprofits just schools long-term care facilities, really anybody in the community who has a project that needs completed and they need volunteers for so that’s phase one get all these projects phase two is then to pair all these projects with volunteers throughout the community.
Melissa D’Auria: So days of caring is this Year on October 25th and 26th and we’re in the phase where we’re trying to look for volunteers to actually meet the over hundred projects that have been submitted with super exciting is this year is our 20th anniversary. So we’ve been consistently doing Days of Caring since 1999.
Tom Heath: Can you give some specifics of things in the past that you’ve done or maybe projects this year that are lined up?
Melissa D’Auria: Yeah sure. So some examples of projects are Community parks that either need a cleanup or Painting curbs. We also have schools that might need like some some work on a playground or some yard work. We also have we do a lot of food drives. We have long-term care facilities where you can actually sit with the seniors and just talk with them and Converse. So there really are a variety of projects for for anyone at any age at any skill set.
Melissa D’Auria: We say so, you know, if you want to come with your Duke do a days of Karen You’re with your family and you you have a five-year-old. There’s certainly going to be a project that’s appropriate for every age and ability.
Tom Heath: So do they just someone just go to days of caring and then sort of find the job from there or do you get paid? How does that work?
Melissa D’Auria: Exactly? If you go to UnitedWayTucson.org, you’ll find the link to get to the days of carrying page from there. It’s going to take you to a platform where it lists all the different projects and it lists the whether it’s on Friday the 25th or Saturday the 26th. I list the shifts and how long it is how many people Looking for so we get a lot of teams. So say you want to do with your soccer team. You’ll know that’s an appropriate project. They need 30 plus volunteers.
Tom Heath: And if it needs some kind of specialized training you would indicate in there. You’re not going to show up and not know what to do.
Melissa D’Auria: Exactly. Yeah, and there’s going to be someone on you know on site for each project get holding everyone’s hand. But usually it’s something that you know that the majority of us have the skill set for.
Tom Heath: We are talking with Melissa diarrhea from the United Way of Tucson. On and Southern Arizona about the days of carrying coming up here on the 25th and 26th of October the history and impact of the last 20 years and kind of an overview of the project. We’re going to be back with the rest of the interview to feature the community sponsored and Community painted mural in just a moment, but I want to remind you that you are listening to Life along the streetcar on Downtown Radio 99.1 FM and available for streaming on Downtown Radio.org.
Tom Heath: So we heard about a paint-by-numbers kind of mural that was happening with the United Way, and we wanted to find out more turns out as part of the days of caring and we’re interviewing Melissa D’Auria from the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona about this project.
Tom Heath: Oh, I was connected to you originally through a Catina Kholer. We did an interview with her about the co-working campus that they’re creating and she’s very excited about the newest edition coming that they’re renovating at a furious pace, the the Old La Suprema Tortilla Factory. And in that interview, she told me that there was going to be this project on on the against the north wall of the huh, and she started explaining. I’m like, this is amazing and she said I had to talk to you about it. So tell us about this project!
Melissa D’Auria: Yeah. We’re so excited. I mean the way this all came together really is a beautiful thing. So I mean for starters we we wanted to find such as a special project to commemorate the 20th anniversary of days of caring And a few years ago, we wanted to do a mural but it sort of fell through and I think this year was just Kismet being the the 20th anniversary and all the right Partners came into play.
Melissa D’Auria: So in partnership withLa Suprema and Sokka and Startup Tucson and Tenwest we will be doing a mural on the La Suprema north wall and we did a call to artists thanks to the help of Sokka, Isaac. Caruso is going to be our artists and it’s going to be a Immunity mural project that will take place on October 26 the Saturday of Days of Caring and it’ll be a paint-by-number mural. So Isaac will do, you know sort of the tough detailed work but then the stuff that the community can participate in he’ll make it pretty easy so that the volunteers that sign up for that project can actually participate in creating this beautiful work of art in this historic neighborhood.
Tom Heath: I’ve never heard of the concept of a community mural, is this you said you were working on a mural for a while was this concept of a community mural which were thinking of?
Melissa D’Auria: Yeah, and it does exist. So people that this key that does happen before it’s not super common, but it it’s possible we did some research to make sure that you know something we could execute you know, and make sure to keep the Integrity of you know, the rendering of our artists. But yeah, it’s it’s something that were super excited about and we feel really passionate about I mean this the mural is in the old Barrio Viejo neighborhood and the the draft artwork that Isaac put together a really pays homage to the neighborhood and the building so it only makes sense that this is a project that the whole Community can be involved in really just to continue that, you know working together to improve the community, you know vibe that not only all of our organizations really care a lot about but that this event It’s really focused on.
Tom Heath: Selecting an artist for this that’s going to be a bit of a challenge because you had to put a call in saying designing wonderful mural that other people can paint.
Melissa D’Auria: Exactly exactly. It didn’t scare people away, we were shocked at how many great applications even got out of state applications?
Tom Heath: Really, about how many applications came in?
Melissa D’Auria: We got about 14 applications. Wow. Yeah good heavens and that it was hard to narrow down as really hard.
Tom Heath: What was that process? Like was that you just you throwing darts at a picture?
Melissa D’Auria: We actually thanks to Sokka there’s There was a rubric and you know, we had a really specific things we’re looking for just to make sure that you know, we took really great care in this project. And yeah, so it was tough but all the partners involved are really invested in finding the right artist and we know we we found that great artists and yeah, the the final step was to create, you know, we sort of gave the the parameters of the project that you know, we really wanted it to honor the neighborhood and the area The event and what Isaac Russo came up with really just everyone was in unanimous agreement really hit the nail on the head.
Tom Heath: This is a fairly prominent. Wall, right? This is on the North side. Yeah, it’s visible.
Melissa D’Auria: You can see it from TC from the TCC parking lot actually, so it will be quite visible.
Tom Heath: Okay, and the the owners of the building I’m certainly had they had to cooperate and they’ve got to be loving this.
Melissa D’Auria: Yeah. Yeah. I mean the the partnership that was involved to really make this come to fruition. I mean, it was incredible everybody. Not only the partners that I mentioned but the neighbors and you know, the law office across the street and we wanted to make sure everybody had was invested in this project. We I know Katina and her teen even were brought it to the neighborhood association. So, you know, it’s really important that we feel that everybody does have a say in this because it’s going a going to be a lasting part of the community.
Tom Heath: So this game together it didn’t in the past and you like it. Maybe it’s kids. But there has to be an actual Catalyst but was this how did you were you driving this or did someone come to you and you’re like, oh my gosh. We already have the model. How did this really conversation start this year.
Melissa D’Auria: Well, like I said we knew we wanted a big project and this was always the one that we were hoping for. We’ve been working with 10 West and the startup Tucson folks for the past couple years been doing a sponsorship with 10 West and so we told them you know this what we really want to do this year and you have any ideas Has and they made the connection to Katina. And so that’s how it all came came to fruition but it really was super organic and everybody kind of got the idea right away and was focused and really determined to make it happen.
Tom Heath: There’s something extremely satisfying to me that an organization that builds their their business model and collaboration was working with a festival that works on collaboration to come up with a project that require so much collaboration.
Melissa D’Auria: I think you said it for sure and in the fact that it all has gone so smoothly and everybody is yeah, I knock on wood. I feel confident because we all this this isn’t about one organization. I mean this really is about the community and we’re all super committed to that
Tom Heath: before we started recording you felt that the these volunteer slots may fill very quickly. Yes, because you probably don’t need a tremendous amount of volunteers for something like this, right?
Melissa D’Auria: Yeah. We don’t need a ton for this. I know that Isaac. You know, he we want to make sure it’s something that is easy for him, you know to execute the day of as well, but we will have volunteers at the entire day on October 26 to complete the mural project.
Tom Heath: And if you’re not talented like myself with painting because I’ve helped other murals, but I hope to maybe clean the area of right so you
Melissa D’Auria: have there will be other jobs for sure in addition to the painting. That’s a really good point. I mean we’re going to have to have refreshments and all of those kinds of things to make sure we clean the area being We are just in the neighborhood to visit make it look pretty but we want to make sure we respect all the neighbors
Tom Heath: And is this supposed to be done in a day like you’re going to have all done?
Melissa D’Auria: It’s going to be yet. It’ll be all that. I know Isaac supposed to do touch-ups on that Sunday, but he he’ll start probably a few days before getting the the main Central image complete and then once that Dunhill segment each area into the paint buying number categories. He’s but yeah, we should it should be done that day
Tom Heath: And he’ll be on site. I’m assuming that Saturday to point out and say no that’s the wrong taupe
Melissa D’Auria: Exactly exactly. But he’s feel excited about that but the community piece to and he actually has experience with these Community murals and that was that was really important to us that the person that we chose really understood that you know, we want the community involved in to make sure that that’s something that they were So excited about
Tom Heath: I had no idea that this concept existed and I think it’s absolutely wonderful and it’s for for Tucson and where we are in the sort of economic swing. Yeah and paying homage to the heritage of rho va o doing it through murals, which is becoming very big draw in Tucson. Yeah across the board and then to have it done through volunteers kicking off a weekend where you celebrate volunteerism. It’s just a wonderful wonderful event.
Melissa D’Auria: Being that it’s a 20th anniversary. We hope to get the most amount of volunteers possible just to give folks an idea last year. We completed a hundred 30 projects in two days with 42 hundred volunteers. So every cheer we try to up that you know, particularly being the 20th anniversary.
Melissa D’Auria: So anyone can volunteer, like I said go to United Way Tucson dot-org and he’ll he’ll look for a days of caring and then you’ll be taken to the list of volunteer projects. It’s a great thing to do with your family team. School co-workers, we have a lot of Corporations and businesses participate which is exciting. So they’ll bring hundreds of volunteers. So and a lot of employers here in town will actually pay folks that Friday to actually go out and volunteer rather than stay in the office and work. So it shouldn’t be too hard of an arm twist to your boss. If you need help. Let me know I’ll talking to do it.
Tom Heath: So if people do need help, how do they get a hold of you?
Melissa D’Auria: They can go to United Way to send out our my number is right on the website or you can call directly 903-9000 but if you go to info at UnitedWayTucson.org those emails find me and we’re happy to hold your hand through the whole process. So if somebody wants to volunteer for something specific we can you know, talk to you the phone and help you find the exact right project. It’s important to us that we fulfill these projects because these are Community entities that have reached us out to us saying hey we need help.
Melissa D’Auria: So we really want to make sure that we you know Meet the needs of the community and help people help, you know, just the general public get involved in their community and volunteering is such a great way to do that. Like anything you get way more out of it if you put in so, you know, if you put time and effort into Community, you’re really going to get a lot more out of it you have until October 21st to sign up but I do suggest signing up early because those great projects that people are clamoring for like the mural are going to go real fast.
Tom Heath: So and if you want a Friday off work give Melissa a call…
Melissa D’Auria: yeah, talk to your boss gonna make it happen make it happen.
Tom Heath: Thank you so much for your time.
Melissa D’Auria: Thank you very much.
Tom Heath: That was Melissa D’Auria from the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona talking about the days of caring and the project that has come about for the community paint-by-numbers mural really looking forward to seeing how that comes together and excited to see the finished product.
Tom Heath: Well, my name is Tom Heath you are listening to Life Along The Streetcar on Downtown Radio 99.1 FM and available for streaming on DowntownRadio.org. Well that’s going to do it here for episode 105. And if you ever want to catch up on past shows, we referenced a couple that we had done earlier this month with mayor Rothschild in a feature on Days of Caring you can always head over to our Facebook page Life along the streetcar or check out our new web page LifeAlongTheStreetcar.org. Got just about every show we’ve recorded up there and then we pull out the features as well. So if you see something you like you can listen to the whole show or just the main parts that that interview that was sort of the meat of the program.
Tom Heath: That’s a LifeAlongTheStreetcar.org if you head over there probably tomorrow maybe later today, but by tomorrow you’ll see the interview we had with a Melissa D’Auria today from the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona about this really cool Community mural project and will also have the information that we spoke about for Big Boy coming to town. And of course, we’ll link to all that stuff on our Facebook page.
Tom Heath: Well, we’ve talked about trains a little bit today. So we thought we’d leave you with a little music about trains going to song hear from John Doe. It’s from his 2016 album The Westerner. And This song is called “Get on Board.” My name is Tom Heath. I hope you have a fantastic week and tune in next Sunday for more Life Along the Streetcar.