Photo by Joel Reichenberger
John and Tanya Taing, of Oak Creek, stand next to their white picket fence that will get a new coat of paint with the help of Routt County Habitat for Humanity. The small home repair project, called A Brush With Kindness, is looking for more volunteers for this weekend.
No construction background is necessary to volunteer for this weekend’s A Brush With Kindness home repair project. To sign up for a three-hour shift, click here.
Steamboat Springs A 75-year-old woman might not have to go through the winter with the roof of her trailer leaking.
A family of six in Yampa won’t have to wait to repaint its two-story home.
And a woman with a disability finally will get a wheelchair ramp in her Fish Creek Trailer Park home, all because a group of people in Routt County won’t let these households go without.
On Friday, Routt County Habitat for Humanity is launching A Brush With Kindness, a five-day volunteer effort to help community members with exterior home repairs they cannot afford or perform themselves.
“If we’re a caring community, which I believe we are, this is exactly what we should be doing to show it,” Habitat Executive Director Jody Patten said.
The program still is looking for volunteers for Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, when it will attempt to improve five households.
“It’s just as important to keep up housing that is affordable and not just build new ones,” Patten said.
Volunteers can sign up online here for one of several three-hour shifts. Participants will get a T-shirt and on-the-job instruction. No construction experience is required.
A big help
Oak Creek homeowner Tanya Taing has been a stay-at-home mom for her two children for the past five years. She’s been unable to paint her picket fence or afford needed repairs to her back porch.
She said she’s grateful for the shared community effort to help with small projects that will include her home.
“It’s great,” Taing said. “It’s definitely needed, especially in the economy we’ve been living in. Being a stay-at-home mom for five or six years while the kids were growing up, this is really a big help.”
Although the Taings will be out of town when volunteers are working on their home this weekend, Tanya said she plans to help out with a Brush With Kindness project at another family’s home in Yampa.
“When we’re available, we’ll definitely be helping out because we think it’s such an awesome program to reach out to South Routt,” she said. “It’s for things to look nice, but also it’s what we’re supposed to do. Being a good neighbor and reaching out in the community is what we’re about.”
Maintaining a presence
Although not currently building a home for a local family, Routt County Habitat for Humanity is looking for ways to maintain a presence in the community and continue to have a positive influence on affordable housing in Routt County.
Patten said A Brush With Kindness also would help garner expanded volunteer participation for future builds.
“This was a way to engage more volunteers, for people to learn about what Habitat does and just to really have a good impact out there,” she said. “This is a whole new thing for us. It’s a shift for us. It doesn’t mean we’re never going to build a house.”
She said Habitat recently acquired a lot in Oak Creek and plans to start construction on a house when the economy begins to turn around. The process of finding a family to inhabit the next house also has begun, Patten said.
“That’s happening, but at the same time we have this second track,” she said. “We really are trying to deal with urgent current needs of low-income housing, and believe me, there is a lot of need in this community.”
As the long, cold winter approaches, Patten said there are countless homes with broken windowpanes, leaking roofs and other basic problems that for whatever reason, the residents can’t find a way to fix.
Patten said she expects more small-scale projects before winter to help low-income residents or people with disabilities prepare for winter.
Habitat alleviates some financial restrictions by providing all-volunteer labor and flexible payment plans for materials costs. Many of the people benefiting often are heavily involved with their own project, as well as helping with neighboring projects.
“This is a shared effort,” Patten said. “It’s a hand up; it’s not a hand out. I see them going from a place of hopelessness to a place of being thrilled that people care about them. Hopelessness to feeling loved: that’s a dramatic effect in someone’s life.”
— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 871-4204 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org