Church groups, insurance agents, bank employees all make great painting volunteers


If you read our column last week you’ll remember we were in a particularly grateful mood as we highlighted three groups that are tackling the last three houses for Paint the Corridor, the community-wide volunteer event that featured painting homeowner-occupied houses along “the corridors” through Aberdeen and Hoquiam.

To reiterate, this summer the Aberdeen Bobcats, led by Tammy Heth; Aiken and Sanders Inc., led by Terry Sodders; and the youth from the Aberdeen Church of Christ, led by Lawrence Redding, are tackling the three “left-over” houses from last year’s big event. When all is said and done, the volunteers, businesses and organizations in Grays Harbor will have come together to prep and paint 69 houses since the event began June 19, 2010.

We think that is something to continue to celebrate! And, today and for the next few weeks we want to continue to give a nod to as many of the volunteer teams as possible. Every time we drive through the corridor of State Highways 101 and 109 leading through Aberdeen and Hoquiam, we find ourselves grateful to all those folks who helped to build a community with a scraper in one hand and a paint brush in the other.

Today we’ll be sharing the stories of Pastor Doug Basler, from the Aberdeen Presbyterian Church, Kris Liedtke from Bank of the Pacific, and David Steinman of State Farm Insurance Agency, Inc., in Aberdeen.

FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

Pastor Doug Basler of the First Presbyterian Church of Aberdeen, has had a team from his congregation working for the last two Paint the Corridor events. The first year they were partnered with a Home Depot team, but by the next year their team was big enough to tackle a house by themselves.

Pastor Basler said that while working on last year’s home, he got to know the homeowners some and was touched how grateful they were.

“They opened up their home to our group. We could use the facilities and they even provided refreshments. They were very thankful for the work that we were doing,” he said.

“As a community, Paint the Corridor is a neat way to have the community get together, work on a project and take pride in our community. It gives us a chance to get to know our neighbors and work together.

“As a church, at the center of what we believe is that Jesus came and served us. So, as followers of Him we feel we should serve each other and others as well.”

One of the additional benefits of volunteering, Pastor Basler said, is that “service projects create a great way to get to know each other within the team, to build community and friendship.”

In fact, service is so important to the congregation that a couple of Sundays each summer, the church doesn’t meet for a worship service, but instead “sends out” the congregation to serve. That is some of the time team members spent on Paint the Corridor.

BANK OF THE PACIFIC TEAM

For Kris Liedtke, a commercial loan officer with Bank of the Pacific, the three years he and his coworkers have been involved with Paint the Corridor, have been rewarding. He was particularly struck with “how big of a difference could be made so quickly.”

“When you’re done, there’s a real sense of accomplishment. And, it helps everybody. It just doesn’t benefit the homeowner but the whole community.”

“It makes such a big difference. The houses that were done, you could really tell the difference.”

Each year, the teams from Bank of the Pacific included about 10 to 15 people, he said, including coworkers and their family members.

“It’s nice to have a different way of interacting with your coworkers outside of work,” he added.

STATE FARM INSURANCE

As David Steinman began his State Farm Insurance Agency Inc., in Aberdeen, he was crazy busy, often working 80 hours a week to establish his new business.

However, when the opportunity to help with Paint the Corridor came up, the words from his parents echoed in his ears — “If not you, then who? If not now, then when?”

“Time was at a premium for me to say the least, but I felt it was my civic duty to give back to the community that helped raise me. I knew that I wanted to be an active member of our community …”

Steinman put together a team of four to six people in 2011 and 2012. He said the thing that surprised him the most about Paint the Corridor was the quality of work.

“I have seen homes go through some of the most amazing transformations during this process. You would have no idea that much of this work is done by professional bankers, insurance agents, Realtors, etc. I’m very proud of the level of work that we put out there and much of that is thanks to our professional partners that help direct us.”

“I have found it to be a very rewarding experience to assist people who otherwise do not have the ability or means to be able to paint their home. The overall effect to our community is that as we drive through this corridor every day, we can look at the beautiful homes that connect our communities with renewed pride.”

Steinman said that fostering the spirit of volunteerism is a valuable community asset.

“This project may not benefit someone that you know personally, but sometime down the road someone you know will benefit from our community having a strong volunteer base. We all know that tough economic times can reduce funds availability; this usually happens as the same time that community needs increase. Volunteer service helps to fill this ever-widening gap.”

Steinman encouraged others to volunteer for the next Paint the Corridor or clean up event.

“You don’t have to have any pre-existing painting skills to get involved, nor do you have to be someone who is willing to go up 30 feet on a ladder. This is an easy way for a couple of hours out of a few weekends for you to get active and do something fun in your community.

“I would like to encourage everyone to participate in your own way to some volunteer projects here at home. Change begins with you,” Steinman said.

More stories are coming — stay tuned!

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks® of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is the executive director. This is a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing opportunities for all residents of Grays Harbor County.

Do you have questions about home repair, remodeling or becoming a homeowner? Call us at 533-7828, or 1-866-533-7828, or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen