Karen Murley helps cheer up D.C. homeless shelter

Karen Murley paints a mural at a D.C. shelter. (Photo: WJLA)

On the pages of a children's novel, a 10-year-old boy finds an escape to magical kingdoms where dreams come true, far from the tiny room he shares with his mother in a D.C. homeless shelter.

And at a northwest shelter, the drab, depressing hallways become backdrops for adventures in faraway lands.

Karen Murley and her assistant volunteer their time and talents painting murals on shelter walls and decorating apartments for families in transitional housing.

"I like to think that the families have a home to go to where they feel safe and comfortable, where they are happy," Murley says.

Murley's tree mural gave a young shelter resident, James, an idea for his own mural.

James suffers from Sickle cell disease and is ill often. Caring for her son cost James' mother Ebony her job - and their home.

"We've been going through a lot of hospitalizations and...blood transfusions and things like that so," Ebony says. “first the hospital, then D.C. General and then we ended up here."

But Ebony says the murals help James and the other kids. And that makes Murley feel fulfilled.

"It's wonderful, it's wonderful, because to me children have such potential,” Murley says. "And if they can get any bit of encouragement in any way, I think it's a great achievement."