“A Brush with Kindness,” a Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity program, pairs homeowners who do not have the means to properly repair their homes with supplies and volunteers to help do the work. When basic living expenses exceed monthly income for homeowners, home maintenance can fall casualty. Years of deferred maintenance can cause a downward spiral of home deterioration and unsafe living conditions.
“In ten years,” says Brush with Kindness program manager Pat Lund, “Brush with Kindness has helped 1,000 families—100 per year. We do a lot of painting, exterior and interior repairs, replacing garage or storm doors, some siding and windows, and light landscaping.” Seniors make up half of the program’s participants. Low-income seniors tend to pay medical bills and their property taxes first, so they may not have the means to pay for home maintenance. Consequently, they may be cited by the city, or their homeowner’s insurance may be endangered. Single parents and the disabled take priority over other applicants.
Volunteers for the program enjoy interacting with homeowners. The program has 2,500 volunteers, a number that has grown ten percent each year. “We need more skilled workers like carpenters and electricians to volunteer,” says Lund. “We train our volunteers on the work sites, asking for at least one full day of work. Brush with Kindness is a nice complement to our other programs that build houses from the ground up.”
Harriet Mednick, a coordinator for Senior Chores Services, says that “Brush with Kindness volunteers brought water, food, paint, ladders, and even a porta-potty to paint my house and garage.” Mednick herself helps other seniors find young people to do needed chores like cleaning out basements or garages, mowing lawns, or washing windows. “I helped seniors fill out ten applications for Brush with Kindness last year,” she says.
Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity is now accepting applications for A Brush With Kindness.
Jeanette Fordyce contributes regularly to the Daily Planet.
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