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Volunteers brighten lives by painting homes
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Several volunteers gathered Friday morning at a small house on Washington Street just inside the Porterdale line. The paint on the house had been sanded previously.

The volunteers, who were helping the Porterdale-based Community Assistance Relief Effort (CARE) organization, started spraying the house itself with white paint and brushing black paint on the trim around the windows and door.

CARE, founded several years ago by Porterdale resident and City Councilor Linda Finger, raises money and collects physical donations to help needy residents of the city with some home maintenance, like painting, and with a limited amount of cash assistance.

Finger said Friday this house was the seventh the group had helped to paint in 2011. She emphasized that the group only helps people who own and live in the house, as opposed to helping landlords who do not keep up their properties.

"We're trying to help the owner-occupiers who don't have funding to do it," she said. Most of the people they help paint the houses on their own; CARE supplied the paint, much of which was donated by Valspar last summer.

Home Depot donated a couple cans of paint, and Finger said CARE will purchase some as well. "The residents can choose what color paint they want, but they usually choose white," she said.

For this project, Hands On Newton helped to recruit volunteers, who came out despite threats of rain Friday. "We're collaborating with CARE and Home Depot to get volunteers for this project," said Mollie Melvin, program director for Hands On Newton.

Home Depot had five volunteers at the home Friday. Paul Small, the captain of what the home improvement chain calls Team Depot, said the Covington store has a volunteer program employees can use to donate their time outside of work.

"We try to make sure we help the people who support us," said Small.

Recently, CARE provided paint for two other houses near the one getting the makeover last week. Finger said CARE will drop off paint for another house this month.

Besides helping needy homeowners and making the city look better, Finger said she hoped the paint jobs would put pressure on several problem landlords who do not maintain their rental properties.

"Property owners with rentals will have to step up," she said.

The city intends to begin stricter enforcement of upkeep and maintenance ordinances this year in an effort to get some of the houses in the worst condition back into shape.