New program hopes to revitalize neighborhoods

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A new program starting up in the Chippewa Valley is hoping to get the community together to spruce up homes around town.

The Eau Claire chapter of Habitat for Humanity is launching the program known as a Brush With Kindness starting at the beginning of May.

Instead of building homes for low-income families from scratch the Brush With Kindness program is aimed at small projects like painting or landscaping outside of existing homes.

“I live on a farm and there are some old buildings that we are working on renovating and that's given me some skills that I can use and take back,” John Ellingsen said.

Ellingsen says over the past couple of months he's been coming to the Habitat for Humanity Training Center to learn new skills that he can put to use around his home.

“I’m pretty new to these meetings but I’m eager to get involved in some of these projects,” Ellingsen added.

John hasn't volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, but after picking up some new skills at training sessions he’s hoping to put them to good use helping others.

“We are trying to make this a community effort not just a Habitat for Humanity thing. We figure that this is a program that Habitat can initiate but we can bring people from around the neighborhood together,” Habitat for Humanity Training Center coordinator Bruce France said.

After six years of volunteering on builds around the Chippewa Valley, Bruce France says Habitat for Humanity's impact in Eau Claire is about to get much bigger thanks to the new initiative called a Brush With Kindness. The program focuses not on building new homes, but improving ones that are already there.

“What we are going to do is target certain areas of town that have fallen into decline. We can help homeowners bring their houses back up to where they would like to have them. We will come in and do everything from yard clean up to painting and scraping on the exterior of the house some small minor repairs,” France explained.

The program aims to help low income home owners make repairs to the outsides of their homes. Habitat for Humanity says applications will be considered on a case by case basis. With each future project, Habitat for Humanity has one common goal.

“Hopefully this is going to be a contagious thing and it’s going to take off and really make our community a lot better,” France added.

The first Brush With Kindness event will take place on May 2nd. Habitat for Humanity volunteers will team up with around 60 workers from JAMF Software to have a community clean up in the Phoenix Park neighborhood.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or you want to apply to be considered for A Brush With Kindness you can contact Habitat for Humanity at (715) 833-8993. There is also a link to their website with more information on A Brush With Kindness under Related Links on the right-hand side of this screen.

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