Community fights blight with rakes, paint
By SHERYL KAY
LUTZ -- Residents of Lutz will come together tomorrow to show their true colors at the fourth annual Paint the Town, an all-volunteer residential rehabilitation program.
Sponsored by the Lutz Community Council, and the Sheriff's Office, the event dovetails on the Great American Clean Up, a national neighborhood improvement program each spring.
Two homes have been chosen locally for an all-around beautification program including landscape renovations, pressure washing and new paint.
"The house has to be in a condition where sprucing it up would improve the whole neighborhood," said Gordon Brown, community resource deputy. "It's a win-win for the homeowners, the community, and the people who are volunteering to do the work. It builds community pride all around."
In addition to those who will give of their time to help paint, corporate sponsors have joined in too. Home Depot donated the paint, and Roger Whitley Chevrolet and Publix Supermarkets are providing food and drinks for the volunteers.
Qualified homeowners include the elderly, the disabled and those in financial need, Brown said.
This year's recipients for the repairs are Diane Ivy, whose home is at 17712 Cranbrook Drive, and John Donovan, who lives at 105 1st Ave. NE.
"I'm very happy they've got volunteers to do it," said Donovan, 83, a retired automotive repair shop owner. "It needs painting and I don't have the energy to do it myself. I just work in short bursts."
Donovan, who has lived in Lutz for 25 years, was rather matter of fact when his son asked him if he'd like his home to be considered.
"I told him, 'Well if you want to paint mine, you go right ahead,' " said Donovan, who in his spare time builds airplanes. He flew them until two heart attacks and a stroke set him back. "I'll probably be out there helping (the volunteers) out if I'm not busy with something else."
The benefit of the project comes when the work is completed, noted Brown.
"I drove by the first house we ever did about two or three months ago, and it still looks good three years later," he said.
"It's what we call the 'broken window theory,' " he continued. "If you have a broken window in a neighborhood and you don't repair it, pretty soon there's another one, and then another one, and before you know it, the whole neighborhood is full of broken windows. But if you fix the very first broken window, then people take more pride and keep it up. Then the whole progression doesn't happen, and all of the other windows don't get broken."
The Paint the Town project runs tomorrow and then again next Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m. both days. Volunteers are asked to bring gardening tools tomorrow, and paint scrapers, pans, rollers, and brushes next Saturday.
Brown expects work to be completed around noon on both days, then volunteers will head over to Memorial Park for a free lunch.
- Contact Sheryl Kay at email@example.com
Call Deputy Gordon Brown at 264-8950 to volunteer. He will tell participants where to report.
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