February 1, 2012 12:33:00 PM
As a city planner, Christina Berry knows the importance of keeping up appearances. Since her appointment late last year, Christina has been busy putting together a strategic long term plan for the city. In the meantime, though, she's also been thinking about easy ways to keep Columbus beautiful. And, during a recent ride through the city, a project that gives everyone an opportunity to help paint Columbus came to her.
Christina noticed certain Columbus neighborhoods had beautiful homes with well-kept yards. Other neighborhoods, however, had homes with a clear need for a fresh paint job. When she went back to her office, did some research and learned many of the homes in need were also in violation of the city's maintenance code. She then contacted a few of these homeowners and discovered many could not afford to hire painters and were physically incapable of painting the houses themselves because of age or disability.
At first, Christina didn't think there was much she or the city could do about this. But, as she thought more about it, she saw potential for the city to find a creative solution. The city could partner with business and volunteers to paint the homes of the disabled and elderly. This could increase the pride the homeowners feel about their home, and help improve the facade of the neighborhood, which helps to increase property value, which in turn helps the city.
Christina then put this idea into action. She set up a criterion to determine eligible homes. To receive the paint job, the homeowner must either be a veteran, disabled, elderly, or financially unable to afford a new paint job. Homeowners have until Feb. 15 to apply for the program. After this deadline, the paint the town committee, which is made up of 10 city leaders, will determine the homes in most need of repair.
For every eligible home, the city needs sponsors and volunteers. To sponsor one home, businesses or citizens can pay $300 for the paint and supplies and then take responsibility for painting that home. Sponsors, of course, can paint more than one home.
If a person doesn't want to be a sponsor, he or she can be a volunteer. All the homes are going to be painted on March 31, so each house will need at least 10 volunteers to get it painted in one day.
Currently, several business and citizens have committed to help Paint the Town. But, more are needed. Paint the Town is teaming up with "Taste of Art Paint and Sip Studio," a local business, to host a fundraiser for the project on Friday, Feb. 17 at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 18 at 10:00 a.m. For $30, each person gets the chance to tap into their creative side with a painting lesson, while meeting new people and helping to improve quality of life in Columbus. Taste of Art is donating a 100 percent of the proceeds to Paint the Town. Registration for the fundraiser can be done at brickertonart.com.
It would have been easy for Christina to ignore those houses she saw on her ride through Columbus. She could have turned her eyes away and blamed the homeowner. She could have decided it wasn't her responsibility and focus on her numerous other tasks. She could have convinced herself there wasn't anything she could do to help. Instead, she thought of an idea to help solve the problem. Because of that, we all have an opportunity to follow her lead and help paint Columbus.
Scott Colom is a local attorney.