“We have about 100 people lined up for this week,” said Adwoa Asare, the community development manager for Habitat for Humanity of Orange County.
Asare is one of the managers responsible for A Brush with Kindness — a nationwide effort to transform neighborhoods by painting, providing minor exterior home repairs, landscaping and cleaning up yards in partnership with more than 130 low-income homeowners, many of whom are elderly or have a disability.
This national initiative to assist less privileged homeowners with homes in need of repair is more than just a quick tidy-up. The effort focuses on safety and comfort.
“Typical repairs include siding repair and replacement, painting, landscaping, and accessibility modifications such as handicap ramps, hand rails, storm doors, storm windows — generally things on the outside of the house that can help make it safer for the residents living within,” Asare said.
Asare said that it is mostly college students who come out and help, but volunteers can be as young as 14 years old.
“I would say close to 50 percent of our volunteers are UNC or UNC-related,” she said. “That’s because we partnered with the Jackson Center and [Good Neighbor Initiative] to do most of our volunteer recruitment.”
The weeklong service initiative is sponsored entirely by Habitat International, which granted Orange County, one of 40 affiliates to receive funding, $4,000 to cover costs of supplies and promotional material.
While A Brush with Kindness directly benefits residents in Northside neighborhood, the work being done this week is rewarding to the volunteers as well.
Sophomore Micheline Amisi is a volunteer working with the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. to renovate homes in the area.
“We got to meet the owners of the home, and we met his son who is a retired police officer in the Carborro area, so he came out and helped us and was painting with us,” she said. “It was a great, great experience not only to help out but to know who we were serving. Just to be able to see how thankful they are adds on to the experience of service and work.”
Amisi said she and her team were only able to paint one side of the home they were working on, but were hopeful that the home would be finished in time for the final dedication ceremony on Friday.
David McEntee, treasurer for Habitat for Humanity and a five-year volunteer, described attending a home dedication as the best part of volunteering.
“On a much smaller scale, you’re able to do a huge amount of good, a huge amount of improvement for a family,” McEntee said. “It’s oftentimes families who’ve lived in the community for generations, for decades if not generations, and in a couple of Saturday afternoons you’re able to really really help them in their home.”