The Community Paint-A-Thon successfully celebrated its 25th anniversary in Northwest Suburban Chicago this year with the combined coordination efforts of HandsOn Suburban Chicago, Catholic Charities and Habitat for Humanity, along with paint donations from Valspar Coatings and the dedication of more than 500 corporate and community volunteers.
For a quarter century, volunteers in the Northwest Chicago Suburbs have committed a full day—and often several days—to paint the exterior of fellow community members’ homes. Homeowners with limited financial resources, who are at least 60 years of age or have a permanent disability, are chosen through an application process facilitated by Catholic Charities. Volunteer teams are coordinated through HandsOn Suburban Chicago.
Teams of volunteers come from a variety of community groups, organizations and corporations, and individual volunteers have varied experience. Motorola Solutions’ volunteer team leader Brett Jackson led a group of coworkers and friends to paint a Palatine resident’s home this past Friday. He explained, “Most of us are blessed. We realize how lucky we are and we want to give back.” Jackson’s coworker, Brian Pohlman, a long-time Paint-A-Thon volunteer, shared his most rewarding Paint-A-Thon experience throughout his years as a volunteer, “There was one homeowner…whose husband died of cancer. When we finished [painting], I just remember her standing on the driveway sobbing, she was so thankful. It’s cool when you’re done and the homeowner is so appreciative.”
On the other side of town, Bretta Hammerstrom and Jeremy Bower led a group of around 25 volunteers—mostly Nokia employees—to paint a home in Streamwood owned and occupied by an elderly couple. The couple expressed their gratitude by cooking baked beans and potato salad for the volunteers and providing them with cold water and pop. The homeowner exclaimed, “As far as these volunteers go—they’re terrific. These people are giving up their time, being away from their families to do all this.” Her husband added “It’s really helping, let’s put it that way. It’s real good for us!”
Because of slight rain delays and rescheduling, this year’s event is taking place over the course of two weeks. Between September 3rd and 15th, 31 community and corporate volunteer teams will roll up their sleeves to paint a total of 31 area homes in 10 distinct townships. Even with the overcast weather, the spirit of neighbors helping neighbors and communities coming together is as present as ever this year.
Nancy Nordtvedt, a four year Paint-A-Thon volunteer and substitute teacher in District 54, summarized the community spirit by saying, “I know how I would feel if I had someone painting my house. I’m not too far from being in that position. We have to be there for the people who can’t…there’s not anything more gratifying than helping others. That’s what we’re here for.”