It has been a long, long time since Sandra Caldwell’s dream home has seen a coat of paint. Neither she nor her husband have been able to keep up with their aging home.
That changed this week, thanks to the Mineral Wells Summer Mission project working on Caldwell’s home and three others in the Pasadena Heights area.
“I thank you all so much,” Caldwell said, seated in a wheelchair on her Sam Houston Avenue front porch, her curious and watchful dog at her feet. “I thank the Lord, too. You are helping me. To me this is really a miracle that this is happening.”
Caldwell’s home – which she grew up admiring and wanting to buy, then eventually did – received more than paint. A section of rotted boards were removed and replaced.
“This is my home, I want to stay here,” she said.
The work of Mission Mineral Wells, backed by dozens of workers and community support in the form of cash and supplies donations, will help ensure Caldwell’s home remains her home.
Santo High School student Josie Smith didn’t know she would spend Wednesday scraping loose paint from the sides of Caldwell’s weathered frame house.
“I woke up this morning and my mom said I am doing this today,” she said.
She was working as part of the group from Fairview Baptist Church, and said it was her first experience scraping paint.
“It is going to make somebody’s day, so I am down for it,” she said.
Cooper VanRemmen also worked on a muggy Wednesday to prepare the house for its paint job. He has been on Fairview Baptist Church summer mission trips before.
“This was a day I didn’t have a good excuse,” to not be out working and helping he said. “I am happy I was able to.”
Bonnie Pacey and Matthew Reddell were helping remove the rotted boards from one side of the house.
“People need help, and it’s nice to help people,” said Pacey.
“People out here need us to come in and bless them and help them,” Reddell said.
The four homes has volunteers this week from Fairview Baptist Church, Community National Bank, DWS Metal Buildings, Community Christian School, First Baptist Church, Mineral Wells Genesys Aerosystems, PULSE Ministries, Texas Cleaning Systems, Unique Drywall, Ventamatic, Well of Life Church and Palo Pinto County Juvenile Probation Department working under the guidance of overall construction director Brian Leatherman, owner of DWS Metal Buildings, and coordinators at each site.
Gene DuBois was one of the site coordinators tasked with overseeing the volunteers, assignments and work. Asked how one directs people on a project like this, including those who are not skilled or experienced in home repairs, he said he drew on his past construction experience, and nearly four decades in corporate sales and management.
“That is probably the key to what my skills are, identifying people with certain skill sets,” DuBois said. “Some people can do things conceptually, and you just turn them loose. I don’t need to hold their hands. You have to be smart enough to utilize the skills and resources people have and get out out of the way.”
Nearby on Cedar Street, a project team was quickly making progress Wednesday morning, with new siding quickly going up on a home, thanks largely to the carpentry skills of Pastor Kirk Horton and Paul Reed, site coordinator.
For Reed, a Marine veteran who attends Countryside Baptist Church, he said this week’s mission work is a chance for him to give back, and make up for the time he failed to give to God and others.
“It is time I ask for a lot of forgiveness and do what God wants me to do,” Reed said. “This is phenomenal.”
Homeowner Josh Alton, a single father of a 9-year-old son away on a visit to East Texas, was in back of the home helping others with crowbars pry off an exterior wall. The home belonged to his late grandmother, and now with help he is restoring and preserving it for he and his son.
Alton said he looks forward to his son returning and seeing the house after it is done.
“He is going to really be surprised when he gets home,” Alton said.
The work continues through Saturday, and will include juvenile probationers cleaning up a small park area.
Under the umbrella of PULSE Ministries, Mineral Wells Summer Mission was coordinated from scratch to continue the work performed the last two summers by the BOUNCE! project that brought in youth from across the state to work on homes in that year’s Project 365 neighborhood.
Pasadena Heights is this year’s Project 365 target zone, receiving heightened efforts by police and the community to reduce crime, litter and to address some of the residences needing work.
The City of Mineral Wells provided a $10,000 donation, while local non-profit groups pitched in with monetary gifts, including $2,000 each from Rotary Club of Mineral Wells and Mineral Wells Noon Lions Club. In all, over $18,000 in cash was provided.
Thousands more in support was provided through in-kind donations, including Waste Connections, Richards Signs, Allstar Athletics, Day & Night Pest Control, the Disaster Relief Team, Wal-Mart, Metro IGA, Golden Check and Meridian Brick.
The volunteers have met each morning at Mineral Wells Center of Life for breakfast, and were provided lunch, thanks to meal donations by Old School Pizza, Zonta of Mineral Wells, Jack in the Box, McDonald’s, PULSE Ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Cornerstone Baptist Church, Countryside Baptist Church, Fairview Baptist Church and First Baptist Church of Mineral Wells.