For three years, Dianne Forrest had been entering a Take Pride Winnipeg program that has volunteers paint the exterior of homes for people unable to do so themselves.
When she entered again this year, Forrest said she had little expectation of being selected, despite her need.
“I’m a widow and I don’t have anyone to do anything for me,” she told the WREN.
When her name was selected this year for the Brush-Up Winnipeg one-day painting blitz, Forrest said she was “totally shocked. I thought they were playing a trick on me.”
First the cracks in the stucco exterior were filled by volunteer contractors Louise and Floyd Broesky, and then WinnipegREALTORS® staff and members showed up last Saturday morning at her St. Vital home to paint the exterior.
“The volunteers arrived at eight o’clock in the morning and they stayed until 5:30,” said Forrest. “That’s a long day.”
Forrest said she has lived in her home for 40 years and the exterior hadn’t ever been painted during that time. Over the years, the stucco had taken on an off-white hue and was in dire need of sprucing up.
“It looks fantastic now,” she enthused (see page 11 for before and after photos). “People have been coming up to me and saying how great it looks.
“It was like winning a million dollars for me!”
While the volunteers from WinnipegREALTORS®, a sponsor of the city-wide program, were painting her house, she engaged in conversation with REALTOR® volunteer Hannon Bell.
“He said to me, ‘We don’t just sell houses,’ explaining why he was there volunteering his time.
“People should know more about what they (REALTORS®) do,” Forrest added. “I won’t have believed people would so freely volunteer their time like that.
“They did everything. It was just unbelievable.”
Tom Ethans, the executive-director of Take Pride Winnipeg, a private non-profit charity, dedicated to inspiring community pride and promoting a clean and beautiful Winnipeg, said the program is in its fifth year with 50 homes painted in total, including 10 this year.
“People are jubilant beyond words after their homes are painted,” said Ethans. “That’s what it’s all about. We make a little change in their lives with a little colour.”
To be eligible for the free Brush-Up Winnipeg program, residents must be 65-plus (Forrest is 72), or have a permanent disability, and own and reside in the home that needs painting.
“People were walking on the street and stopping to look,” said Peter Squire, the public relations director of WinnipegREALTORS®, who volunteered to help paint Forrest’s home. “They knew something different was going on and they would come up and read the Brush-Up Winnipeg sign.”
“The impact on the community is striking,” said Ethans, “and it inspires the entire neighbourhood to improve.”
WinnipegREALTORS® has participated in the program for the past three years.
“It’s just totally wonderful,” said Forrest of the the new paint on her home courtesy of the Brush-Up Winnipeg program and