Germantown mural symbolizes grief, hope and healing for relatives of homicide victims

EMIR executive director Victoria Greene with the new mural at the agency's office in Germantown. (Photo by Vernon Clark)

For Victoria Greene, the new mural at her Germantown counseling center for relatives of homicide victims, represents grief, hope and healing.

The mural, entitled Mending a Broken Heart, was dedicated on Thursday in three second-floor rooms of the Every Murder is Real (EMIR) Victim Assistance Center in the 5200 block of Germantown Avenue. The mural was painted by artist Nathaniel Lee, of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, with assistance from students at St. Gabriel's Hall, a residential facility for deliquent boys in Audubon, Pa.

In one room, the mural depicts a burning heart and a phoenix rising from the ashes, symbolic of the grief and healing victims' relatives experience. In an adjacent room, there are depictions of a boy and a girl wrapped in phoenix feathers, like a healing blanket. In the third room, there are images of bleeding heart flowers and phoenix feathers.

Greene, founder and executive director of the counseling center, knows all too well the suffering experienced by victims' relatives. In March 1997, her son Emir Greene, 20, was shot to death on a nearby street corner. A retired social worker for the Philadelphia Prison System, Greene, opened the counseling in 2008.

She told the artists about the loss of her son, saying her heart was "beyond broken." Greene said she told them, "The pain was so painful that I felt like my heart was on fire. The artist and the young men used that in their design."

Greene said the phoenix represents "rebirth and that you can heal and go on, but you will be a different person, hopefully better."

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