Kindness of neighbors helps homeowners

Published 2:09 am Saturday, April 16, 2011

Three houses along Snowden Street have gotten a facelift — thanks to the acts of kindness from neighbors and strangers.

And organizers of the groups that helped them hope more work will be on the way soon.

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Homeowners received help from the East Brewton Beautification group as well as Habitat for Humanity’s new Brush with Kindness program, which matches volunteers with homeowners who need smaller renovation work.

East Brewton Beautification organizer Duane Carroll said the work was a joint effort to do structural improvements as well as paint and landscaping.

“With the help of some students and other volunteers with Habitat we were able to get three houses painted over the last few weeks,” Carroll said. “The work at those homes included some minor repairs and some sprucing up in the yard. I made sure we put flag poles and flowers on the porches and in the yards at those houses.”

Habitat Director Alecia Glaize said out-of-town college students as well as local youth — including the chamber of commerce’s Youth Leadership Class and T.R. Miller softball players — took part in the East Brewton work. The three projects were the first for Habitat’s new Brush with Kindness program, which is an extension of the homebuilding work the group already does.

The work Carroll has headed up in East Brewton is what he hopes is just the beginning of a ministry he wants to see grow.

“I’ve been blessed to be able to get this ministry going,” Carroll said. “I really want to do more with this. We already have five more houses being looked at for improvements and are just about ready to start work on two of them. I would love to see this grow with more volunteers and even reach out beyond East Brewton.”

Carroll said the partnership on the last projects with Habitat was the thing that got his ideas off the ground and moving.

“I can’t thank the folks at Habitat enough for what they did to help us on these projects,” Carroll said. “Alecia (Glaize) and Terrance (Breckenridge) were just fantastic to work things out to make this happen. There were so many other volunteers that made the work enjoyable and beneficial for the homeowners. The First United Methodist Church had workers who built wheelchair ramps and so many other students and volunteers were involved it’s hard to remember everyone. I just know that this was a great project and a wonderful blessing to us and the homeowners.”

Future projects will be similar to those already completed along Snowden Street, Carroll said.

“We want to do what we can to help homeowners spruce up their homes,” Carroll said. “We won’t be able to do any major repairs or anything, but we can make their home better and better looking. We’ll do some fixup including things like painting and weatherproofing for people who qualify. We will pay for the materials and recruit churches and volunteer groups to help with labor. There are so many people with homes who could use a little work but they just can’t afford the labor or the materials. That’s where our group comes in. We’re excited about what we’ve already accomplished and looking forward to accomplishing more.”

Carroll said the grueling days of manual labor aren’t fun, but the end result is worth the sweat.

“It’s a hard job to do outside work on a home,” Carroll said. “But, when you have grown adults giving you a hug and saying their home is a home and not just a shell after we finish the work, it’s worth it all.”

Glaize said the group is continuing to streamline its application process for Brush with Kindness and hopes to have more projects under way soon. Homeowners involved with Brush with Kindness must pay for some of the materials — although Habitat has had some donations — but volunteers do the labor.

“The needs are great,” Glaize said. “We need more volunteers to work.”

Anyone interested in the Brush with Kindness program can call Habitat at 867-0095. Anyone interested in East Brewton Beautification can call city hall at 867-6092.