Students paint mural to honor veterans at local senior center

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Local high school students spent their summer painting a mural to honor veterans who live at Solstice Senior Living Center in Bakersfield.

What used to be a stark white wall is now filled with color, history, and memories. They call it the Wall of Honor.

As the vibrant life program director, Rhonda Neufeld, has commissioned dozens of projects during her 20 years at Solstice. However, she says this one is the most special.

“It’s just the most rewarding wall to me,” Neufeld said. “Because of (veterans) and their sacrifice, I was able to be with my family and raise my family in a free nation.”

Just as Neufeld was touched by the project, she wanted to inspire local teens. Reaching out to Ridgeview High School’s art club, she got three students on board.

“I jumped at the opportunity because I come from a military family,” explained Blake Park, one of the student painters. “My grandfather was in the Air Force; I have a cousin in the Air Force, and a cousin who’s trying to go into the Marines.”

In just one Saturday, the students completed their masterpiece in seven straight hours.

“While we were painting, we had a veteran from World War II come in, and he started crying because he was so touched,” Park said.

About one-quarter of the residents at Solstice are veterans. Robert Lansford served around the world with the U.S. Coast Guard for 20 years.

“To me it’s indescribable. the pride that I have in my uniform, the pride I have in America–it’s just an honor to be a part of this,” Lansford said.

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