By Jessica Creagan
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- A "Tree of Life" will be blooming at a local thrift store this fall season.
Fifteen-year-old artist Lyle Michos will see his artwork grow to be larger than life next month when a professional artist comes to town and turns his picture into a mural on the front of Heaven Sent Thrift Shoppe in Vero Beach.
Heaven Sent Thrift Shoppe is associated with The Source, a nonprofit organization helping the homeless and near-homeless in the community with food, clothing, counseling, job referrals and more. All of the proceeds earned at Heaven Sent benefit The Source, but there are many in the community that don't even know the shop exists, said Dennis Bartholomew, executive director of The Source.
Enter Lyle and other young artists from around the county.
This summer, The Source asked students in the sixth through 12th grades to create a drawing that could be transposed as a mural on the storefront of Heaven Sent and visually set the building apart from the other buildings as motorists drive by, Mr. Bartholomew said.
Lyle's submission of two trees and black and white portraits of people was done in markers. In contrast to the people, the trees were vibrant and striking in blues, greens, yellows and oranges.
He said he purposely put young, almost baby faces at the bottom of the tree, near the roots, and as the tree goes up toward to highest branches, the faces get older, illustrating the link between people, no matter their age.
When he first heard about the contest, he didn't know The Source's mission.
"Now I know they are doing good things to help people in the community," said Lyle, a student at Indian River Charter High School.
Last week, the top three finishers in the art contest were presented to county commissioners and their art will be displayed at the county administration building.
Commissioners praised the students' work and participation in something that will help the nonprofit increase visibility, and hopefully get more funds to carry out their mission.
Victoria Vendryes, 11, a student at Master's Academy in Vero Beach, submitted her drawing using pastels as her medium and won second place.
The soft colors depict people representing her family playing together outdoors underneath a rainbow, sun, and framed by crosses.
"I thought about my family and I thought about people being happy and that's why I put a rainbow and the cross for Jesus," Victoria said.
"I felt very happy and thankful that people liked it," she said.
Third-place went to Katie Valentin, a homeschooled student. She chose crayons to create an aquarium scene with many little fish and a Bible verse to be painted on the door of the building.
"I heard about it on the radio, Christian FM," Katie said.
She and her family have volunteered at The Source previously, helping serve food.
"We have a fish tank at home, so I think that's where I got the idea," she said with a shy smile.
The thrift store offers the community previously owned furniture, household goods, curios, clothing, toys and many more types of items, The Source's website said.
Heaven Sent is open and staffed by volunteers Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Donations are accepted during business hours at the rear door.
Heaven Sent Thrift Shoppe is located at 1239 16th St., Vero Beach. For more information about the shop, call (772) 299-6303. For more information about The Source, visit www.iamthesource.org.