Father, son paint messages of hope, humor

Dan and Jude Kimmel honor area workers
April 15, 2020

With stay-at-home restrictions in place, artist Dan Kimmel started looking for something creative to do with his son, Jude, 8, a Milton Elementary second-grader.

Dan said the idea hit him while driving to work at Mariner Middle, where he is one of a handful of custodians working at the school.

“My son is pretty artistic, too, so I thought, let’s paint some signs,” he said. “He thought it would be cool to put up fun signs with positive messages.”

The first signs depicted toilet paper rolls with hearts and the word “Hope.” 

“I put it on Facebook and people loved it, so we decided to do signs for people who are still working,” Dan said.

The next sign shows donuts and a coffee cup depicting a figure in prayer. Kimmel said signs have been placed on Savannah Road, on the way to and from Beebe Healthcare, to cheer healthcare workers.

The Kimmels’ newest creation channels Rosie the Riveter, a cultural icon representing women who worked in factories and shipyards during World War II. 

The father and son modified Rosie to honor Cape district cafeteria workers, who are making grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches every day at H.O. Brittingham Elementary for distribution to district students.

“My mom is the lunch manager at Beacon, and my aunt is a lunch lady at the high school,” he said. “We’re going to put this sign right at the entrance to HOB, so they can all see it when they come to work.”

Dan said after his signs went up, he was happy to see other local artists hanging signs of hope.

“And the cool thing is, my son was born prematurely at 26 weeks,” Dan said. “He was trached and on a ventilator for four years. A neurologist said he would never be an artist, never walk or talk. But he’s very artistic - musically too. We’re putting messages of hope out, and no one knows a kid who was on a vent for four years is doing it.”

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