More than 400 volunteers took part in the 25th annual Paint Your Heart Out program, which helps low-income and disadvantaged homeowners by donating time and materials to paint the exterior of their homes.
CLEARWATER – Armed with brushes, ladders, buckets of paint and the will to make a difference in their community, more than 400 volunteers took the day to help their neighbors in need.
The 25th annual Paint Your Heart Out outreach program kicked off at 8 a.m. on March 25 and less than six hours later more than 10 homes sparkled with a fresh coat of paint courtesy of the city of Clearwater and a contingent of business and community donations.
For a quarter of a century, Paint Your Heart Out has helped low-income and disadvantaged homeowners make their homes bright and beautiful.
One homeowner who benefited from the program this year is centenarian Jimmy Miller, who has lived at his North Washington Avenue home for almost 50 years.
Miller’s daughter, Izella Mitchell, said the program has been a godsend to her family.
“I think it’s a great program,” Mitchell said. “So many people are not able to get their houses painted – they just can’t afford it.”
Ill health had prevented Molly Kuklovic from making needed repairs to her Boylan Avenue home, which she has lived in for 36 years.
Diabetes and complications from a brown recluse spider bite seven years ago had left Kuklovic unable to maintain the exterior of her home.
And while she said she appreciates the new paint job, she was overwhelmed by the community’s generosity.
“I think it’s amazing,” Kuklovic said. “All these people willing to come out and donate their time just to help a stranger.”
But it’s just that – helping others – that keeps volunteer John Burton returning year after year.
“I just enjoy it,” said Burton, who has volunteered his time for the last 15 years. “I really like helping the community. Plus, the free snacks.”
Clearwater city employee Joe Farrar, who volunteered his time for the third year on Saturday, said the experience is rewarding each year.
“Even though it’s hard work, once it’s all done, it does make it worth it,” Farrar said. “It really does.”
Following the workday, a volunteer celebration was held at Coachman Park in downtown Clearwater.