BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – In just its second year, the annual Paint-A-thon, organized by Fort Madison Partners is finishing up on their fifth home in Fort Madison.
The event is put on in conjunction with Community Action of Southeast Iowa and identifies smaller homes in Iowa that are in need of some minor exterior repair and painting.
Partners Executive Director Tim Gobble said his goal this year was to move to three homes over the two that were done in the event’s first year in 2018.
“Actually we started with two, but there were a couple groups from industries that came up and said we’ve got x number of individuals that are going to help on such a date,” Gobble said.
“I thought, ‘Well, I won’t have enough work for everyone’, and we had some homes in the queue and we were able to come up with a third to home to help with.”
But he said volunteer support was better this year than last as word of the project got out.
The project focuses on smaller homes that are 1 to 1.5 stories that are owned and resided in by residents 60 and older. Gobble said by sticking with those parameters, if some of the volunteers didn’t show up, the work could still get done.
“I was able to schedule 22 to 25 people per house this year,” he said. “And the work has gone very well.
The premiere sponsor of the event for the past two years has been Kempker’s True Value Rental, who furnished all the paint for the three homes.
Homes this year were located at 2026 Avenue E, 3407 Avenue Q, and 4415 Avenue L.
Gobble said if there was one thing he would like to improve on for next year, it would be getting more applications for homes. He said the application process only turned up one home, but that was disqualified as being outside the parameters of the project.
He said Community Action provides services to residents in Lee County and they were able to reach out to some and find homes that could be improved. Gobble said once the homes were identified, Community Action went to work.
“Community Action and their contractor has been working on the homes for the past 2.5 weeks getting them ready to be scraped and painted,” Gobble said.
The contractor does minor repairs to the exterior of the building to enable the rehabs to have lasting impact, such as window sill replacement and work on soffits.
Volunteers pick up from that point and do powerwashing, scraping, sanding, and finally painting. Donations are used to help purchase supplies and equipment for the projects.
“Donations were about the same,” Gobble said. “We set a budget and looked at what we had last year and maintained that income line. But these homes aren’t requiring as much, so that will help meet our budget.”
“We basically made sure each had the same number of individuals helping. As the houses get done, we may seek some additional help at the other locations,” he said.
“I’ve always liked the program, it’s just a matter of getting the word out. Toughest thing this year was getting the houses.”