The day-to-day tasks of upkeeping a house can be difficult for anyone — especially for low-income older adults like Gail.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Gail’s husband passed away in a nursing home, and she was unable to see him due to COVID-19 protocols in place at the time. She described the incident as the most painful, frustrating experience of her life.
The two were best friends and chose not to have children, making his loss that much more devastating for her. And to make matters worse, Gail was left alone to upkeep a 50-year-old house that needed work done — especially on the exterior of the home.
Thankfully, Gail learned of Brothers Redevelopment’s Paint-A-Thon Program earlier this year. So, after applying for the program, volunteers from PCL Construction arrived at her house in August with paint buckets and brushes dressed in green shirts that read “Mission: Home Possible” — a nod to the title of Brothers’ 2022 Local Social fundraiser that the company sponsored.
The paint project was that more special for Gail because her husband worked for PCL Construction decades ago.
“They were all wonderful people. This took one of the burdens off my back because I have so many other things that need to be done on my home,” said Gail. “I didn’t want to be embarrassed with how it looked in the neighborhood. It looks so much better, and now I don’t have to worry about it.”
Gail’s house is one of 94 homes Brothers painted in 2022 during its 44th Paint-A-Thon season. The program utilizes volunteers from places like businesses, churches, and other entities to paint homes owned by low-income people, older adults, and those with disabilities.
Brothers painted houses in 17 cities this past year, including in Denver, Brighton, Colorado Springs, Thornton, Littleton, Lakewood, Englewood, Aurora, and other parts of the state.
“Paint-A-Thon had an incredible year in 2022. We saw our volunteer numbers increase by 250 and we increased our cost savings to homeowners by over $100,000,” said Brothers Volunteer Department Director Chad Nibbelink. “Perhaps even more significant were the increased interactions we saw with our homeowners and volunteers. We heard from both volunteers and homeowners that getting to know each other was one of the best parts of their Paint-A-Thon experience.”
A cause bigger than yourself
The 2022 Paint-A-Thon season wouldn’t have been possible without the selflessness of the 1,945 volunteers who collectively spent 14,340 hours painting houses, doing yard work, and visiting with Brothers’ older adult clients.
Volunteers chose to contribute their time to the Paint-A-Thon for a variety of reasons. Some painted houses in honor of loved ones like Heritage Title Company — who dedicated a Paint-A-Thon project to Kevin Lockett who passed away in July.
Others chose to volunteer for the Paint-A-Thon because they wanted to make an impact on affordable housing in Colorado — like 2022 Local Social fundraiser sponsor Native Roots who was named a Civic 50 Colorado honoree this year by CSR Solutions of Colorado. Other businesses who either fund Brothers or volunteered for the Paint-A-Thon that were recognized as a Civic 50 Colorado Honoree include Wells Fargo, who had employees volunteer for the Paint-A-Thon through its Welcome Home Initiative, Bank of America, Key Bank, and U.S. Bank.
In total, 133 volunteer teams worked to contribute to the Paint-A-Thon’s success.
“It’s a project that although it’s a lot of work in the day, you get to see the outcome of it. You get to see the transformation of a house, which is unique,” said Michelle Curry, PCL Construction District HR and Professional Development Manager. Curry has volunteered for the Paint-A-Thon four times and helped Brothers plan the Local Social.
“The homeowners have been fantastic and grateful and excited for this change. It’s just really a feel good event,” Curry added. “Ultimately it’s a day that you learn a lot, and even if you don’t think that you have the skills to do it, you really come together as part of your volunteer team. I would definitely say it’s an awesome way to tangibly give back to your community.”
Extending the life of homes for low-income, older adults
Linda Hunsberger serves as a part time caregiver for her 97-year-old mother at their Broomfield home. But the two jokingly say they care for each other, because Hunsberger has her own medical conditions.
This past year, Hunsberger had two knee replacements — making it increasingly difficult for her to maintain her home. The mother and daughter qualified for the Paint-A-Thon because of disabilities and income, and had their house painted in June by a group of teenagers from YouthWorks — a Christian organization that connects middle and high school students to mission trips.
Hunsberger said tears welled in her eyes when she realized a group of teenagers were spending part of their summer volunteering to beautify her home.
“I smile to myself when I think of Brothers Redevelopment,” said Hunsberger.
Like Hunsberger, 2022 Paint-A-Thon recipients struggled with income. The average 2022 Paint-A-Thon recipient’s income was $23,999 a year — a number that is drastically lower than Colorado’s median household income average of $75,231, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The average Paint-A-Thon project value is $6,024 — a price that would’ve cost Paint-A-Thon clients 25% of their average annual income had they paid for their houses to be painted.
“We know our volunteers care and that’s why they contribute so much to the effort. Their big hearts and hard work are why this program has been so impactful for the last 44 years,” said Nibbelink.