5/16/2014 10:54:00 AM Brush with Kindness impact deeper than simply curb appeal
by DENISE MARTIN
The folks with A Brush With Kindness are looking to make this summer’s Mission Week effort a huge success and a big chunk of defining success involves doing lots of projects. If you feel overwhelmed by all the work that your home might require, ABWK wants you to get in touch and fill out a partnership application. Or, get a nomination form and suggest somebody else’s place as a project site. Last year was the first time for the local non-profit group’s “Mission Week” format, sending scores of volunteers to several sites.
This summer Mission Week takes place over June 14 to 21. A Brush With Kindness (ABWK) is a local non-profit spin-off of the Habitat for Humanity organization. ABWK sites are selected for their project feasibility and ability of the homeowner to partner with the project. ABWK will assess the extent of work that a site requires, and assign a manager who supervises an army of volunteers, providing sweat equity to make projects happen. Sites that are financially and physically possible get scheduled for a work group for few days, a few hours or in some cases-- weeks-- worth of attention.
One homeowner who wanted to talk about the experience, LaVonne, had ABWK out at her place for weeks. The rambler home was unique because there was a lot of tear-off of materials from an abandoned stucco job to prep the house for work. The completed product was so inspiring and such an emotional relief that when she pulled into her driveway, LaVonne said she stopped and sat in the car and stared at the home. It was like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders. A Brush With Kindness has already accomplished re-roofing, built handicap access ramps, installed siding, provided major repairs and/or tear-down of dilapidated decks and car ports, and of course exterior painting. LaVonne’s house just outside of North Branch city was accomplished last year. You might have noticed it was three different colors inside of short time span. “It seemed like the Hand of God was on this from the start...everything went so smoothly,” LaVonne said. When she first heard about ABWK she didn’t think volunteers could assume the overwhelming workload her house presented.
It was a situation where she and her family had kind of learned to live with the state the property was in, she added. ABWK ended up being a very positive experience, with family members rallying on a common cause. “I just always assumed I’d be living in a black (tar paper) house.” LaVonne said she wasn’t even considering getting the work done until an ABWK steward at her church, Mainstreet Church, in North Branch, approached her. Three Sundays of gentle reminders and she agreed to partner with the group. LaVonne’s daughter Pam said the house is like an ABWK “poster project” because it’s on a main road and just about everybody is familiar with it. Al Rasmussen, ABWK coordinator, agreed the house is indeed symbolic of what ABWK is all about. “In other traditional mission trips, volunteers swoop in and the owners sort of back away and let the mission people takeover,” he stated.
The program here is all about involving the owners, “...it’s a balance of finding the right family and the right project,” he explained. ABWK can always use volunteers too, who can work one or all days of the upcoming Mission Week or at other times. When you do Chisago County projects it means there’s no burdensome commitment like there is traveling to remote mission sites. Volunteer here and you aren’t far from home. Getting to make a difference in their own community is also important to those who have helped at ABWK sites. And, “We have depth to our group,” Raz continued. “We want people to serve in any way that’s truly comfortable for them.” Volunteers who don’t know about tools or may be limited physically can opt to make meals or snacks for the workers on site, or they can perform light tasks that still provide a feeling of self worth.
One volunteer who is legally blind joked that he’d be fine assigned to a roofing job because he’s super careful and moves slow, Rasmussen laughed. “He is truly amazing.” To get an application form so that someone can come to talk with you about having a project done-- see www.ecmabwk.com and at the top of the page click on “About” and print off a Family Partner Application form. Or call 651-361-0229. Many area churches also have application forms available. Five churches in Chisago County are covenant members providing a steward representing ABWK. Summer Mission Week 2014 will run from June 14 to 21. To volunteer: contact Boni Stockel at 612-229-9369 or e mail at firstname.lastname@example.org