Philanthropic painters — UI students donate time to help local families in need of home maintenance
Chuck Thomas, 80, has suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for four years, and although his wife Alverna, 72, said he is still aware of what’s going on, he is physically unable to complete tasks like repainting the house they’ve lived in for 40 years.
The Thomas’ were chosen by the committee for Paint the Palouse, a project service sponsored by University of Idaho Housing, to have the outside of their home repainted by UI students Saturday.
“My husband just couldn’t do it anymore, so this is really helping us out,” Alverna Thomas said. “This will be a big thing for him and it will really raise his spirits. Knowing that he’s getting help from the students of the university really raised his spirits, helped him to feel good and he’s so thankful for students to help him.”
More than 200 students volunteered their time to help repaint two houses in Moscow. The goal of the annual service project is to provide assistance to those who are physically or financially unable to paint their home by themselves. The project is open to any students wishing to participate, regardless of their affiliation with University Housing.
Shannon Kelly, a member of Delta Zeta sorority, said she didn’t participate in Paint the Palouse last year and wanted to get involved this time to give back to the community.
“I really like helping people, so it’s a great way to help the community while enjoying myself and I like being with my friends,” Kelly said. “There are people from so many different organizations, majors, everything here and it’s just really cool.”
The Thomas’ are both UI alumni and said they love seeing the Vandal family continue the tradition of service to the community.
“It just thrills me to see all you students so happy, they just are giving their precious time to do this and we’re just so thankful. Not everybody knows everybody but they’re just painting together as kind of a university family and I just think that’s great,” Alverna Thomas said. “It tells us the university’s a good school and we’re proud of all the students that get out and give their time for Moscow.”
Alverna and Chuck met while attending UI and have lived in Moscow for more than 40 years. Chuck, who graduated in 1959, was an active 4-H leader while Alverna taught consumer economics at Moscow High School. Alverna said even though they have been a part Moscow for so long, the service done by UI students reminds them how much a part of the community they actually are.
“It’s just unreal that the students want to help us and we’re proud of the university,” Alverna Thomas said. “By painting our house it shows that you care. It touches our neighbors, too, to see that they’re helping.”
Luci Sanchez, service programming assistant for University Housing, has been in charge of coordinating the project for the last two semesters and said Saturday’s project went according to plan.
“It went really good. We stayed in the time period that we usually do. We started around nine and ended by one,” Sanchez said. “We did run out of paint and had to go get more but students waited around just a few minutes because it didn’t take that long to go get paint.”
Kelly said she enjoyed the project and would definitely be willing to participate in future years.
Alverna Thomas said she couldn’t believe it when she received the phone call that their house had been chosen for one of the projects. Her favorite part is knowing that students from all different backgrounds are working together to help her and her family.
“I look around and everyone’s watching each other paint and everybody’s painting … you forget where you’re all coming from and you become a team for the community,” Thomas said. “It’s just wonderful to paint the Palouse.”
Kaitlyn Krasselt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org