A Brush With Kindness: Behind the scenes
There is a family in need of help in your neighborhood. Their house may look OK from the outside—maybe the grass is a little long or the gutters haven’t been cleaned. Maybe the house could use a coat of paint. But inside the house is another story.
Inside lives a woman who is 80 years old. She grew up in the house when there were very few other houses around it. She inherited it from her parents when they died, and she has kept it up for all of her adult life with help from her husband and children. Now her husband is dead and her kids all live far away. She has paid off the mortgage, but keeping up with property taxes, insurance, and her medical bills takes most of her Social Security check.
So, when the water heater went out two years ago, she couldn’t afford to replace it. She heats water in pots on her stove to do dishes and wash her hair. The linoleum flooring in her kitchen is peeling up from the sloshing hot water that drops on it when she moves the pots from the stove to her table. The floor itself has become a tripping hazard. Her only bathroom is upstairs and the toilet seal leaks so badly that the plaster ceiling downstairs in the dining room is in danger of collapse.
As a Project Supervisor for A Brush With Kindness, I encounter stories like this all the time. We can’t help every family with every need. But whenever possible we do try to address the most pressing health and safety issues inside the home: handrails, trip hazards, dangerous wiring, etc. For this homeowner, we were able to replace the damaged floor (pictured above), repair the leaking toilet, and fix the ceiling in the dining room. A referral to the local Community Action Program resulted in a new water heater and furnace. Some people perceive our program as strictly about exterior painting because of its name, and that’s certainly an important part of what we do. But thanks to dedicated volunteers and a skilled staff, we are also able to create a safer environment for many homeowners inside their home.
by Mike Robertson, Project Supervisor, A Brush with Kindness
Have you helped your elderly friends and family with needed home repairs? Tell us your story below!