A Brush with Kindness

A Brush with Kindness (ABWK) is Goodhue County Habitat for Humanity’s newest program. Started in 2010,  A Brush with Kindness is a unique program that assists low-income families in repairing and renovating their homes so they can continue to live in safe, decent homes. A Brush with Kindness projects include painting, landscaping, weatherization and minor repair services.

ABWK was started when Dustin Harford began his AmeriCorps* VISTA year with GCHFH in 2010, focusing on the organization’s strategic plan goal to grow the number of people served. He researched the housing stock and discovered that 30% of homes in their service area had been built prior to 1940, with the majority of those owned by low-income homeowners. The need was clear so Dustin set to work developing the affiliate’s ABWK program. His successor, VISTA member Ali Ortiz, worked to develop partnerships including one with Three Rivers Community Action to increase outreach to needy families for the newly developed ABWK program. GCHFH served four low-income homeowners through the ABWK program last year. In March of 2013 GCHFH received a Star of the North Award from Congressman John Kline. The award honored GCHFH for recognizing and addressing a critical need in their community through the A Brush With Kindness (ABWK) home repair program.

Ultimately ABWK is a nationwide effort by Habitat for Humanity to serve low-income homeowners who struggle to maintain the exterior of their homes.  Exterior home repair services which GCHFH hopes to tackle include painting, landscaping, minor weatherization, and minor repairs.

A Brush with Kindness is a part of Habitat’s broader community development strategy, the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, a program designed to transform and strengthen our communities.  ABWK’s holistic approach revitalizes the appearance of the neighborhood, encourages connections within the community, and most importantly, helps preserve affordable housing stock.

ABWK enables Habitat to help existing homeowners continue to live independently and securely within their own homes.  Oftentimes the partnering homeowners lack the ability, either physically or financially, to keep up with necessary repairs on the exterior of their home.

Each ABWK project involves a dedicated group of volunteers who raise or donate funds to help cover material costs, which enables Habitat for Humanity to sustain the A Brush with Kindness program and to serve local communities in a new way.  Volunteers also help with repairs, working alongside the homeowners (if physically able) in order to sustain Habitat’s mission to provide a hand up and not a hand out.  This program offers volunteers the chance to see their work finished in two-three days and to be invested in the entire project, from fundraising to painting.

GCHFH continues to build new homes in conjunction with the implementation of several new programs such as A Brush with Kindness.  These new programs include ABWK, a ReStore Drop Site which collects new and used donated building materials, and Home rehabilitation, which involves systematically repairing existing homes to bring them up to the standards of new homes.  In looking to the future, GCHFH will continue to adapt to the changing housing economy in order to provide safe, decent, and affordable housing to people in need.

There are only 2 requirements to determine if you are eligible.

1. The home must be owner occupied

2. The total family income must be less than the following maximum incomes (50% GCMI):

Family SizeMax Yearly Gross AverageMonthly Income

GCHFH Income Guidelines 2017

We ask that all able-bodied homeowners and residents work alongside our volunteers, and that homeowners be cooperative partners with Habitat staff and volunteers.

Please contact us if you have any questions or download the application below and email to gchfh02@gmail.com or mail it to GCHfH, 1407 W 4th Street, Red Wing, MN 55066.

ABWK Application