EVERETT — It’s not what you’d expect to see on the back wall of a church.
Brightly painted whimsical animal characters — including a bear, dolphin, cat, penguin, deer and squirrels — are gathered around a dining table.
The table is decorated with a bowl of yellow sunflowers displayed in a bright red vase. The table is filled with food, including cinnamon rolls, a bowl of fruit, and pies.
The new mural, “Table of Diversity,” is displayed on a wall of Everett’s United Church of Christ at 2624 Rockefeller Ave. It was created by Seattle artist Henry Ward, one of 222 of his murals displayed in the Puget Sound area.
Ward designed and painted the scene in honor of Everett’s shelter for homeless families, run by the Interfaith Association of Northwest Washington, and to draw attention to its recently launched fund drive.
The goal is to raise $35,000 to support the shelter in the next eight weeks — 8 percent of its annual budget. The money will be used for maintenance and emergency repairs at the shelter and to help pay the salaries of its staff.
The tie between the mural and the fund drive is explained on one brick in the mural, which says the artwork is dedicated to the Interfaith Association of Northwest Washington.
David Zaworski, interim minister at the United Church of Christ, said it didn’t take long for people to begin noticing the city’s newest mural.
“Someone who can see it from his apartment was very happy about it,” saying, ‘This is great — murals in Everett,’ ” Zaworski said.
The church is among Everett’s oldest, founded in 1893. Its governing board took a look at a preliminary sketch for the mural and gave quick approval to the project.
“I’m glad we’re getting the word out for the family shelter,” he said. “We just got to be the lucky beneficiaries.”
The project began when the Interfaith Association was looking for a way to promote its online fund drive. A volunteer who was helping with social media who knew Ward asked: “Want a mural?”
The artist said his idea for the mural came in part from the shape of space on which the mural would be painted. “It’s kind of an A-frame structure,” he said. He wanted to use that shape to reflect the values of the interfaith organization, including diversity.
“I just came up with a metaphor of people sharing a meal,” he said. “That’s their mission, feeding the homeless.
“I went with animals and critters because it’s my style and what I do,” Ward said. “I love painting animals.”
It took Ward four days to complete the mural, even with the assistance of a friend who helped fill in some colors.
Ward said once or twice a year he donates his time, as he did in Everett, to paint murals. “It’s good to give back,” he said. “That’s what this was about — giving back to the world that gives me a lot.”
Mary Ellen Wood, the Interfaith Association’s executive director, said the shelter serves about 150 people a year, about half of whom are children.
Wood said she checked on the mural’s progress as it was being completed early last week. While there, a man paused to take a look.
“What did you think?” Wood asked him.
“Oh my gosh, you can’t look at this and not smile,” he said.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information on the family shelter run by the Interfaith Association of Northwest Washington, and its fund drive, is available online at www.interfaithwa.org.