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1700 Families Brushed with Kindness

Posted by Matt Cermak on 2:38 PM on May 2, 2014

Jimmy Thurman stood on a step ladder painting his Minneapolis home when he felt a sharp pain in his knee. That was two years ago, he hasn’t climbed his ladder since.

Jimmy and his wife, Diane, have always taken great pride in their home. When the couple purchased it in 1992, The Northrup neighborhood was exactly what they were looking for – a quiet and safe area. “It hasn’t changed much,” Jimmy says, “mostly the same neighbors as when we moved in.”

thurmansUnfortunately, in 2000, Jimmy suffered a back injury that makes maintaining his home incredibly painful. As if that wasn’t enough, he also recently had knee replacement surgery. With his injuries, painting the house was difficult for Jimmy, although that didn’t stop him from giving it his best shot.

“I wanted to get it done before [that] winter, but my knee started giving me problems. The rest I couldn’t do,” Jimmy recalls, clearly frustrated.
Now, two years have passed with the house half painted.  

Fortunately, A Brush with Kindness is stepping up where Jimmy left off.

A Brush with Kindness (ABWK) started at the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, where it was created by Gwen Leifeld, Dick Seitz, Pat Lund and a partnership with Valspar. Since serving the first 64 families in 1998, ABWK has become a model for volunteer home improvement. Today, more than half of all Habitat affiliates have followed their lead by creating their own ABWK programs.

"In my wildest dreams I never would have imagined that it would have grown this large," says Gwen.

“We began with strong partners such as Valspar, Wells Fargo and US Bank, that brought significant volunteer and financial resources that helped us get off to a strong start,” says Pat Lund.

Starting May 2nd, volunteer teams from the law firm, Foley & Mansfield, and health services provider, Cigna, will make painting Jimmy’s home ABWK’s 1700th success story.

1700 volunteers

“I’m excited,” Jimmy says, before adding, “But I’ll be more excited when it’s all done and I can see it.” The project is a huge help to Jimmy, but also a milestone for ABWK.

“I feel blessed by being part of an organization that has served and impacted [over 1700] families, yet at the same time realize there are still so many more families that need our help,”  Pat reflects.

There is a long list of families waiting for ABWK work around the metro area, and project sponsorships help us assist families in need. Learn more about sponsorship opportunities on our website, or contact Mark Turbak at 612-305-7120 or mark.turbak@tchabitat.org for more information.

Donate to support the A Brush With Kindness program

Tags: A Brush With Kindness, Family Spotlight, Archive

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