CHICAGO (CBS) — During the desolate days of quarantine, neglected parts of Chicago seem even more beat up. Omar Alfaro knew he needed to mix it up.
Then he got a call.
His vacant Tri-Taylor building was did not look good.
“All graffitied up,” he said. “I’ve been in the neighborhood 19 years now, and to see something this colorful and positive in this neighborhood… I haven’t really seen anything like this.”
Myron Laban is the painter behind the positivity.
“This is going to say, ‘You Deserve to Be Happy.’ So when people drive past it, you know, maybe they’re having a bad day, they’ll look at this mural and say, ‘Oh yeah, maybe I do deserve to be happy,'” he said.
You can catch the same message in Bucktown and a similar theme in Logan Square.
The murals are part of his Uplift Campaign to reach people with mental health needs.
“These are just small reminders to people that I know things are hard, but it’s going to be OK,” Laban said.
These days it’s Laban who needs the reminder.
“I thought he was just an artist trying to make it, but he’s already an accomplished man,” Alfaro said.
“It is stressful,” said Laban. “It’s a stressful job.”
He is a pharmacist, too. Dispensing medicines and advice to the sick, including people fighting COVID-19.
“I’ve been seeing a shortage in regular medications like inhalers. I’ve been seeing how hydroxycloroquine has been prescribed more, but we’re out of that as well,” Laban said. “People are kind of scared. You have to keep waking up in the morning and doing your part.”
It’s a chance to think about the brighter days ahead and a lasting message he’ll eventually leave behind.
The pharmacist said painting take his mind off of work. He mail flyers with information about mental health resources to anyone interested in passing them out.