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Orange County Habitat focuses on renovating local homes

Photo: Orange County Habitat focuses on renovating local homes (Erin Hull)

Deloris Bynum stands in front of her freshly renovated home on Saturday, when Habitat for Humanity of Orange County kicked off its A Brush With Kindness program.

For four consecutive Saturdays Deloris Bynum watched from her 25-year-old porch as volunteers cleaned, hammered and painted her home.

“I’ve searched high and low for somebody to do the work, but I knew I couldn’t afford it,” she said.

To help those in situations similar to Bynum’s, Habitat for Humanity of Orange County kicked off its A Brush With Kindness program Saturday to ensure that low-income, elderly and disabled residents can maintain their homes.

Alex Bidot, community organizer for the organization, said the purpose of the program is to help repair the exterior of a home, whether it needs a paint job or more complex work.

“It’s a holistic approach to affordable housing,” Bidot said. “We’re really hoping that this is a consistent program that stays with Habitat because we feel that home preservation is just as important as new home construction.”

The volunteer group from three local churches that worked on Bynum’s house made small fixes on her home including fixing broken door jams, replacing rotting wood and applying a fresh coat of paint.

While it takes about 16 work sessions to complete traditional Habitat projects, A Brush With Kindness projects requires about a fourth of that time. Bidot said the program is also less expensive and has helped involve outside organizations that would otherwise be unable to commit the 50 to 60 volunteers needed to construct an entire home.

Sharron Reid, the organization’s family services director, said the program emerged locally when Habitat expanded its focus from solely families to the communities they live in as well.

“Habitat for Humanity has always had the mission of building affordable homes for families in need,” she said. “But as we built into different communities what we recognized was that there were homes within those communities that also needed some attention.”

Reid and Bidot helped compose the small group of family, friends and volunteers who celebrated Bynum’s home dedication ceremony Saturday.

There were many thanks and even more congratulations on all the hard work that was accomplished in such a short time.

“The whole group came together in love to help you with this project because we knew that it was a need,” Reid said.

As tears came to her eyes, Bynum stood in front of her freshly painted house and thanked those who had helped her.

“Each and every one of the people that came out every Saturday in the heat to work diligently on this house… I just truly thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

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