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Team Offutt "brushes up" a new coat of paint, hope for Bellevue homeowners

BELLEVUE, Neb. -- Members of Team Offutt paint a house in Bellevue, Neb. Aug. 22 during the 21st annual Brush Up Nebraska Paint-A-Thon. The annual event started in Sept. 1989, since then more than 2,000 homes have been painted. U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Kevin Pawlik

BELLEVUE, Neb. -- Members of Team Offutt paint a house in Bellevue, Neb. Aug. 22 during the 21st annual Brush Up Nebraska Paint-A-Thon. The annual event started in Sept. 1989, since then more than 2,000 homes have been painted. U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Kevin Pawlik

BELLEVUE, Neb. -- Retired Master Sgt. Tracey Ulanski, paints the trim around the windows of a house in Bellevue, Neb. Aug. 22 during the 21st annual Brush Up Nebraska Paint-A-Thon. The annual event started in Sept. 1989, since then more than 2,000 homes have been painted. U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Kevin Pawlik

BELLEVUE, Neb. -- Retired Master Sgt. Tracey Ulanski, paints the trim around the windows of a house in Bellevue, Neb. Aug. 22 during the 21st annual Brush Up Nebraska Paint-A-Thon. The annual event started in Sept. 1989, since then more than 2,000 homes have been painted. U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Kevin Pawlik

BELLEVUE, Neb. -- Members of Team Offutt paint a house in Bellevue, Neb. Aug. 22 during the 21st annual Brush Up Nebraska Paint-A-Thon. The annual event started in Sept. 1989, since then more than 2,000 homes have been painted. U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Kevin Pawlik

BELLEVUE, Neb. -- Members of Team Offutt paint a house in Bellevue, Neb. Aug. 22 during the 21st annual Brush Up Nebraska Paint-A-Thon. The annual event started in Sept. 1989, since then more than 2,000 homes have been painted. U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Kevin Pawlik

BELLEVUE, Neb. -- Maj. Christopher A. Schwartz, 45th Reconnaissance Squadron, paints the underside of the roof of a house in Bellevue, Neb. Aug. 22 during the 21st annual Brush Up Nebraska Paint-A-Thon. The annual event started in Sept. 1989, since then more than 2,000 homes have been painted. U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Kevin Pawlik

BELLEVUE, Neb. -- Maj. Christopher A. Schwartz, 45th Reconnaissance Squadron, paints the underside of the roof of a house in Bellevue, Neb. Aug. 22 during the 21st annual Brush Up Nebraska Paint-A-Thon. The annual event started in Sept. 1989, since then more than 2,000 homes have been painted. U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Kevin Pawlik

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- Members of Team Offutt apply the first coat of paint to a house in Bellevue, Neb. Aug. 8 during the 21st annual Brush Up Nebraska Paint-A-Thon. The annual event started in Sept. 1989, since then more than 2,000 homes have been painted. U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Kevin Pawlik

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- Members of Team Offutt apply the first coat of paint to a house in Bellevue, Neb. Aug. 8 during the 21st annual Brush Up Nebraska Paint-A-Thon. The annual event started in Sept. 1989, since then more than 2,000 homes have been painted. U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Kevin Pawlik

BELLEVUE, Neb. -- Members of Team Offutt remove loose paint from a house in Bellevue, Neb. Aug. 8 during the 21st annual Brush Up Nebraska Paint-A-Thon. The annual event started in Sept. 1989, since then more than 2,000 homes have been painted. U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Kevin Pawlik

BELLEVUE, Neb. -- Members of Team Offutt remove loose paint from a house in Bellevue, Neb. Aug. 8 during the 21st annual Brush Up Nebraska Paint-A-Thon. The annual event started in Sept. 1989, since then more than 2,000 homes have been painted. U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Kevin Pawlik

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- More than 45 Team Offutt members, along with their families and friends, donated their time and talent to brush up two Bellevue homes during the 21st annual BRUSH UP NEBRASKA Paint-A-Thon Aug. 8 and 22. 

Paint-a-Thon Executive Director Tom Pettigrew said the event is a community-based volunteer program in which people paint homes of qualified low-income elderly and permanently disabled homeowners. The effort helps maintain their properties, increase energy efficiency and beautify communities. 

Since the organization's first "Paint Day" in September 1989, many homes have been painted on the third Saturday in August each year. Volunteers have painted 2,102 homes over the last 19 years. This year, teams prepared homes for painting Aug. 8 and painted them Aug. 22. The Paint-a-Thon, originally set for Aug. 15, was delayed a week due to inclement weather. 

Master Sgt. Kevin E. Pawlik, operations flight chief at the Air Force Weather Agency, was the team leader for Team AFWA/Offutt Top 3. He has volunteered for the Paint-a-Thon since 2005. 

"I have always volunteered because I think it's the right thing to do," Sergeant Pawlik said. "Like the U.S. Air Force, if we're not fighting, then we should be helping on base and in our communities." 

Sergeant Pawlik's team was one of two from Offutt that participated in the event. Staff Sgt. Nina Lawson lead a team from the 55th Force Support Squadron. 

Volunteer teams received their house assignments in July. Then teams set their own schedule for prep work and painting. 

By mid-July, Sergeant Pawlik informed 61-year-old Bellevue resident Lorraine Anderson that she had been chosen as one of the lucky residents to receive a new coat of paint for her home. 

"I called to tell her that her house was picked for the program, and she said, 'I knew God would do something wonderful for me because I just buried my daughter last week,'" Sergeant Pawlik said. 

Mrs. Anderson said she was sitting on her front porch and praying for her eldest daughter who recently died when she received a phone call that brightened her day. 

"I've had a really rough time with my daughter's passing, and I really needed this blessing," she said as she wiped tears from her eyes. "I thank the almighty God for those families that put a hand in making me the happiest person ever." 

Prior to painting, the teams checked the houses for dangers, such as animals, power lines and tall trees. 

"We had to make sure the house was accessible and safe for painting," Sergeant Pawlik said. "Safety is a major concern." 

In addition to prepping houses for painting, volunteers also cut down the trees, which were growing too close to the house, removed trash and other debris and trimmed the bushes around the property. 

Mrs. Anderson said she was impressed with Sergeant Pawlik's team. She said it looked like one big family working in unity. 

"They are so friendly and humble and very respectful. They looked like they were doing it from the heart," Mrs. Anderson added. "They even cleaned my gutters, and they didn't have to do all that." 

Sergeant Pawlik said Airmen should do what they can to help others in their community and encouraged others to do their part. He said he would like to see more Team Offutt members get involved and support the program next year. 

"There are roughly 10,000 people on the base, and I think we have the manpower to support more than one or two teams," he said. "We should do what we can, when we can, while we can. I always try to inspire and get other people involved, and perhaps they'll get motivated to do it again." 

Mrs. Anderson couldn't agree more. 

"If people come together in unity more, this world will be a better place," she said. "We need more foundations, like this, to help people in need. There are so many needs out there, and it's a blessing for this one." 

Mrs. Anderson said she was extremely grateful. 

"I just want to thank all the retirees, active military servicemembers and their families who sacrificed their Saturdays to help unfortunate families, like me, who are unable to afford painting their houses," she said.