The Joe Rush Center, our dorm facility in Midfield, hosts volunteer work groups to serve across Jefferson County. These volunteers paint an average of 35 houses a year for low-income disabled and elderly homeowners. In 2011, we housed hundreds of volunteers and hosted numerous other one-day or two-day groups on work projects. In addition to painting houses, they removed tornado debris, tutored children, tended community gardens, and served the homeless.
Rush is not only about the number of houses painted or people served. It's also about the relationships built through hard work. Spring break, summer, and fall break are when most of the magic happens, as youth groups come from all over to stay in Birmingham for a week. They work hard in the mornings and afternoons, play hard in the evenings, and participate in programs that can help open their hearts to where and how God is calling them to love here and in their home communities. Throughout the year we also host adults on work projects, families on mission retreats, and other civic groups who are looking for service opportunities.
Why focus on house painting?
- Community need: Homeowners ask us to help in this way, and we want to honor their requests.
- Homeowners' insurance: In the state of Alabama, homeowners' insurance policies can be dropped based on paint deterioration. Many of our senior clients come with letters of notice in hand and are only able to maintain insurance with our help. During the April 27th tornado, four homes in Pratt City would not have been insured when they were destroyed if they had not been painted. In this way, Rush is a homelessness prevention program.
- Neighborhood revitalization: It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do. Day one, the neighbors watch; day two, they are out cutting grass and picking up trash; and by day three, they walk over to ask how they can get some help too. Soon, a whole street can look like a new place. We work with other affordable housing ministries to make sure that our homeowners can access other services to live in safe and secure environments.
While Rush is growing (expanding from 60 to 80 beds, offering more service projects, and looking at expanding our home repair work), we will not change the core mission of our ministry, which is to change lives through shared work and service, relationships built and homes transformed.
This program is made possible through your generous gifts. It is part of our mission to provide compassion and wholeness to our neighbors in Jefferson County. Thank you for your continued financial support, volunteerism and prayer!
Below: the same house before... and after!