Modern soldiers go into battle with Kevlar body armor to protect themselves from harm. Medieval knights went into battle with chainmail armor. Castles had thick stone walls and motes. Everything needs something to protect it. For a house, that “something” is the paint on the walls. Recently, members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District helped reapply that protection to an area home.
The 2021 Paint-A-Thon was held Aug. 21. The event, also known as “Brush-up”, is an annual event sponsored by Project Houseworks. It is designed to give volunteers the opportunity to paint the homes of low-income, disabled and elderly homeowners so that they can stay in them as long as possible.
“The recipients are chosen based on age, ability and income by Project Houseworks” said Andy Winslow, USACE Paint-a-Thon coordinator and chairman of this year’s event. Winslow is a long-time volunteer for the event; this being his third year doing it with the USACE and having done it for many years with his church. “We start putting notices out in June through the exec’s (executive) office. Whoever is interested in volunteering, just watch for the announcements.”
Project Houseworks is not only committed to the painting of the homes, however. They provide their services so the recipients can stay safely housed in healthy environments by delivering free, professional home repairs and home modifications. This time, the recipient was Mary Jean Murch. She and her husband had lived in her home for 21 years before he passed away in 2015. She has continued to live in the house since then.
“I was surprised,” Murch said when she received the notification that she’d been selected as one of this year’s project recipients.
Since the house was an older residence, the original coating possessed lead. In order to ensure that the volunteers were safe and that everything was disposed of correctly, Project Houseworks hired a clean-up crew to safely remove the old paint from the house. Murch highly encourages anyone interested in receiving this service to fill out the form and apply
“I think is absolutely wonderful that they do this,” she said. “They take time out of their own schedules to volunteer and do this and I think it’s wonderful.”
The volunteers understand the impact they are having on the lives of the recipients. Many of them continue to come year after year. Volunteers like Joyce Ridout, an Omaha District retiree, who says she volunteers because she enjoys it.
“I’ve been with the Paint-A-Thon since day one of the Omaha team, 1995,” she said.
Ridout is one of between 30 to 50 volunteers that will show up each year. Like many of the volunteers, says she enjoys volunteering because she takes pleasure in knowing that she’s giving back to those who can’t do for themselves.
“I was raised to give back and I enjoy it. We are part of a community and this is the USACE’s way of giving back,” Ridout said. She also encourages anyone interested in volunteering to sign up. “There is always room for more; more help, more people.”
To find out more about the Paint-A-Thon, Project Houseworks’ Brush Up, and to find out when your next volunteer opportunity is, go to https://projecthouseworks.org/brush-up/.