Brush with kindness

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Habitat for Humanity has built 17 homes in Escambia County, including the group’s first house in Atmore earlier this year.
That hand up has made a world of difference for 17 families, but the organization is hoping to reach out in smaller ways to reach even more residents with a new program called A Brush with Kindness. The program will match volunteers with qualified homeowners who need simple repairs or home improvements.
“We think we can make a positive impact on our community,” said Habitat board president Amanda Hines. “There are a lot of homeowners who physically can’t do the work or repairs. We’ve seen that need.”
A Brush with Kindness will offer a long list of possible repairs, from cleaning siding and repainting home exteriors to trimming bushes and trees and replacing windows or shutters.
Escambia County Habitat for Humanity Director Alecia Glaize said the volunteers cannot replace or repair roofs or help with interior repairs.
“We’re going to keep it simple,” she said.
But in doing so, Glaize said, Habitat will be able to expand not only the number of families it serves but also the opportunities for sponsors and volunteers.
Smaller projects will take less time and less money.
“This will broaden the way we can use volunteers,” Glaize said. “We can use younger people. Projects will last from one to three days. For corporations, sponsoring a project will cost less than a whole house. This broadens the opportunity for people to serve.”
Glaize emphasized that Habitat will continue to build houses as well.
“We’re not changing what we’re doing,” she said. “With the economy down, some of our funding is down. To serve new families, we are adding a new program. This will enable us to serve more families.”
Families will go through an application process similar to the Habitat homeowner selection. Brush with Kindness recipients must own their homes and meet income requirements.
Valspar Paint is donating all of the paint to Habitat affiliates for the program. Habitat will ask a small fee from homeowners, and they will also be asked to provide “sweat equity,” just as Habitat homeowners do.
Because some Brush With Kindness recipients may not be able to physically help with the repairs, Glaize said their sweat equity could be something as simple as providing lunch for volunteers.
Habitat building coordinator Terrence Breckenridge said A Brush with Kindness will help fill a “gap” in the community.
“Brush with Kindness is strictly on the outside,” he said. “This (program) gets people aware of all of the things that Habitat does. Seventeen people have had their lives changed by Habitat. With Brush with Kindness we can see that multiply exponentially.”