Nebraska National Guard members Brush Up on Community Service

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mary E. Thach
  • 155 ARW/pa
Laughter filled the air as paint flowed from brushes and rollers onto the aged grey house. Painted fingers gripped and dipped their tools as more than a dozen volunteers from the Nebraska Army and Air National Guard surrounded the house with supplies while they prepared and painted the house.

The house belonged to World War II U.S. Navy Veteran, Norman Phillips and his wife Gloria of Lincoln, Neb., and was being painted Aug. 13 after it was selected by the Lincoln Action Program to be part of the Lincoln Paint-a-thon.

The Phillipses were thankful for the volunteers from the Nebraska National Guard, as they admired their freshly painted home.

"I was ecstatic, I didn't know what to think," said Gloria Phillips. "I knew we could not do this ourselves. Without you, we couldn't afford it."

The Lincoln Paint-a-thon, formerly known as Brush-Up Nebraska, is a non-profit organization that originated in Omaha, Neb., 23 years ago and was founded by Tom and Sheila Pettigrew. They started the program after gathering ideas from the Denver and Minneapolis Paint-a-thon programs then seeking out companies willing to sponsor the program in different communities throughout Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota.

The Pettigrews said once the programs were established in communities, they handed over the responsibility of continuing the program to the surrounding towns and shifted their focus primarily onto the Lincoln and Omaha programs.

Their reason for starting Brush-Up Nebraska was to help low-income home owners who are disabled, over 60 years of age, or simply do not have the financial resources or physical ability to maintain and preserve their homes.

"It is a joy working with all of these people," said Tom Pettigrew. "It's a win-win situation. They love the young people, and the volunteer team can stand back and look at what they have done and see how good it is."

Senior Airman Eva Dean, a knowledge operations manager at the 155th Air Refueling Wing's Civil Engineering Squadron, said this was her first opportunity to participate in the Lincoln Paint-a-thon and felt everyone should volunteer to help the community at least once.

"It's nice to do something for other people and I like to paint, so I'm enjoying it," said Dean. "A coat of fresh paint makes such a difference. It just makes their house look nicer."

This is the fourth year Master Sgt. Sherri Bejvancesky, a knowledge operations manager at the 155th Operations Squadron, has participated in the Lincoln Paint-a-thon. She said volunteering is a great opportunity to get together with friends and family and get involved in helping the community. She also enjoys the ability to help get the Nebraska Air National Guard's name into the public eye in a positive way.

Bejvancesky also brought her friend, Dawn Giles of Cedar Creek, Neb., to help paint the house. Giles said she volunteers for Habitat for Humanity and decided this would be something fun to do with her friend.

"We were hanging out last night and Sherri told me about the Paint-a-thon she was helping with in the morning. I said I would go," said Giles. "It's all about helping each other."

Army Sgt. 1st Class Pam Whisenhunt first participated in the Paint-a-thon in 1995. She said the day was beautiful, she met new people and enjoyed volunteering and helping the community.

"Find a cause that you feel good about and do it," said Whisenhunt. "Painting is something anyone can do."