By Pat Lund
Manager of Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity’s
A Brush with Kindness program
Editor’s note: A Brush with Kindness continues to grow as a national program for Habitat for Humanity and is a home repair program developed in partnership with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity and Valspar.
I first realized there was a huge need for a program like A Brush with Kindness when I was working with two local home renovation programs in 1997 and saw how many families we had to turn away because they did not fit our work scope or fell outside the targeted population we were serving.
Often, homeowners must choose between paying for food, medication, taxes or basic utilities. When basic expenses exceed income month after month, home maintenance is the usual casualty. And years of deferred maintenance can cause deterioration and unsafe living conditions. This is where ABWK is able to partner with under-resourced families, helping them to repair and renovate so they can continue to live in a safe, decent home.
Much of our growth has come from our focus on families. We have been committed to walking alongside struggling families and trying to understand where they’ve been and where they’re at and to give them hope for a brighter future. The stories of our homeowners resonate because they are so much like the neighbor who lives down our own street. The elderly grandmother who must navigate a loose railing and rickety old porch as she struggles to live independently in her home. Or the returning veteran who has come home with a disability and needs help making his home accessible. Or the single parent trying to juggle bills and responsibilities, only to be blindsided by a leak from a faulty roof.
Here in Twin Cities — and in other cities around the United States — ABWK has been a tremendous complement to our homebuilding. As part of a comprehensive package of housing solutions, the program has substantially increased the impact we are able to have on families and neighborhoods.
We get most of our reaction after a project is completed because many of our homeowners can’t believe they are going to get help until the project actually begins. “I have lived in my home for 57 years and have so many memories that the thought of giving it up is hard. This is such a relief,” one longtime South Minneapolis resident shared with me. “Thanks to Habitat’s generosity, I can continue to live with my gardens — and even create some new memories.”