I guess I should start in the Winter 2017. This is when the marketing director of Gateway Mall and I sat down in her office and she explained a new initiative their corporate office had approved. It was to become Live 360, a community driven initiative to elevate the mall to a community space and not just a place to shop. It was an initiative that that began to play out a vision the General Manager had four to five years back. We had discussed it on many an occasion. It was the early part of the summer when Gateway gathered members of the community together to brainstorm what they could envision happening in the mall. During one of the meeting’s activities, an attendee commented on how many kids in Lincoln were on a waiting list for mentors. BOOM! An idea hit me and I began to explain that I could see an installation of that number placed in Gateway to help people visualize and experience just how many kids that meant. That began the process of “One Thousand.”
After the meeting, mall staff, with their corporate managers, sat down and identified projects that they wanted Live 360 to launch with. The installation piece was one of them, so I was contacted and sat down with staff again to discuss the idea further and what I needed to proceed. I said I needed to meet with the mentor organizations to learn about them and hear, from them, what they experience every day. Gateway arranged the meeting and in early July we met with Lighthouse, Team Mates, and Heartland Big Brothers, Big Sisters. I asked questions, listened, took notes, and walked away with the number 1000. One Thousand, it is the number of kids on waiting lists to be paired with a mentor through these organizations. I also learned that the highest need was for male mentors. With that information I left and let it soak in and roll around. I was headed out of town on a trip with my husband and decided to wait to have a final idea until I returned the end of July. But, in God’s perfect timing, I was given an idea to pursue before we left.
Then, I was approached by a young gal (Sarah Wanek) who I was working with at church on some murals. She asked me several questions, all of which I flipped over as God had me praying about and opening doors for those very things. One I was praying for had to do with a desire to have one or more apprentices. So, we met, and I pitched my idea for the installation and she was one board! I was excited!
After returning from my trip and getting my feet back under me, I met with Gateway again and we were a go. They even provided money for supplies! I began playing around with ways to make 1000 rectangles. I tried clay and realized that that would take me forever. In talking with Jason he suggested I have one of his employees cut them out of sheets of plywood at Innovation Campus. GREAT idea! Plywood would be to heavy, but I remembered I learned about a great material called Komatex in the spring (light weight and paintable) so I pursued that route and worked with a local plastics dealer to get what I needed. It took a little bit of time, but we got the material to Rusty to cut and over a week he had all 1000 pieces to me ready to paint. I started sanding the first pieces exactly one week before installation and on Monday Sarah joined me and we began working tirelessly to prepare the pieces. By Wednesday afternoon we had all but 300 pieces cut, sanded and painted. A few issues came up on Wednesday late and so Thursday was spent making corrections and finally Friday morning all pieces were ready to be strung for the installation the next day.
But something on Friday kept postponing my work on the project and finally around 2:30 I got in a groove and started stringing the rectangles. Then 3:30 rolled around and I stopped work to get my son from school. Getting going was a struggle earlier in the day, but by 4:30 pm I had a plan and I started working hard. Sarah joined me around 5 pm and she jumped in working on some rectangles. Somewhere in there I got dinner ready for everyone and people ate as they wanted. I wasn’t about to stop to eat – I was focused and we were going to get this done.
Jason showed up at home around 5:00/5:30 with 1000 paperclips that we needed for hooks. He jumped in and started prepping the “hooks.” Then Christopher jumped in to help. As the boys headed off to bed, just Jason, Sarah and I kept working. Then Sarah suggested she call her sister to come help around 10:30 pm. Shortly thereafter, Jena came, was briefed and she began working. Oh the fun of listening to Jena and Sarah as they unpacked Disney movies. Reminded me of my sister and I. We worked feverishly stopping only briefly for ice cream and popcorn. By 1:00 pm we were tired and still had a half box left. Jason and I sent everyone home to rest and by 1:30 pm I flopped down in bed and was OUT!