HEY, NOW THIS IS WHAT I'M TALKIN BOUT!
Brush Up Buffalo adds color to West Side homes
Molly Shear was among more than 700 volunteers who painted homes Saturday as part of Brush Up Buffalo.
Updated: 06/17/07 7:49 AM
At 8 a.m. Saturday, the house that stood at 55 Plymouth Ave. was a combination of bare shingles and ordinary white paint.
By 10 a.m., the same home’s green siding and orange trim had earned it the nickname “The Spanish Olive.”
In less than four hours, more than 700 volunteers painted a dozen homes on Plymouth Avenue, Hudson Street and Whitney Place in Brush Up Buffalo’s 11th year of service to the city.
Homeowners were impressed by the volunteers’ commitment to the West Side neighborhood.
“When I went to take my dog for a walk this morning, 10 people were outside my house,” said Luis Cotton, whose home on Hudson Street was painted baby blue during the event. “I walked around the corner, and when I came back, there were about 50 people here with paintbrushes. I said ‘Man, you guys don’t play around, do you?’
“The job they did in a matter of hours would have taken me a whole summer. From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate everything they have done.”
Each year, the not-for-profit Brush Up Buffalo event attracts volunteers and teams from local businesses, unions and other community groups who work to beautify low-income homes and neighborhoods.
Since its start in 1996, volunteers have revitalized more than 220 homes throughout the city.
Roseann Scibilia, president of Brush Up Buffalo, credits the numbers to teamwork.
“It is really a coalition,” Scibilia said. “Our corporate sponsors are great. We have at least one union painter at each house. They give the volunteers direction. We could never attempt to paint houses this big without them.”
Saturday marked John Floss’ 11th year with Brush Up Buffalo.
“You give a little back, fix up a few homes, and hopefully other [houses] will follow suit,” said Floss, a union painter.
And many homes receive more than a fresh coat of paint.
“People are gardening, sweeping up the streets, doing garbage cleanup and fixing trim on the houses,” said Tony Astran, a spokesman for Brush Up Buffalo . “It’s more than just painting; we are truly making the street better from corner to corner.”
Plymouth Street homeowner Shirley Savo, 71, is grateful when she looks out her window now.
“You see a nice street instead of a bunch of half-painted homes,” said Savo, whose porch was packed with volunteers repairing trim.
“I have seen changes throughout the 38 years I have lived here,” Savo said. “When I first moved in, everyone kept their houses up. As time went on, people didn’t care much and started moving away. This is just great for the street, and I’m happy for everyone who does this. It saves me because my son and daughter don’t have time to do it.”
Savo also acknowledged Heart of the City Neighborhoods, who acquire and renovate properties, for the recent improvement she has seen on Plymouth Avenue.
“We make homes available for lowincome families,” said Kristy Palumbo, executive director of Heart of the City Neighborhoods. “This is a great ending to our strategic plan. We are so excited to have Brush Up [Buffalo] here. The homeowners are thrilled.” And so were the volunteers.
“In three and a half hours, we painted a home that is 2,400 square feet. That is a professional job,” said Frank Sanbelmo, a business banking manager at Bank of America.
“And there are a few dedicated climbers still up there,” he said, pointing to two climbers at the peak of a house on Plymouth Avenue around 11:30 a.m.
“Out of all the projects the bank works on, this is the No. 1 project for seeing instantaneous rewards,” Sanbelmo said. “No other project can you get this type of work done in a small period of time.”
Astran sees the project as much more than just community service. For many of the volunteers who live outside the city, he believes it’s a true ey eopener.
“[Brush Up Buffalo] brings people here who wouldn’t normally come to these areas,” Astran said. “People from the suburbs come to help and realize the city is a nice place, with good people.”