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Wayne Organization Supports Residents and Is Looking for Volunteers

Under ideal circumstances, neighbors look out for one another. It is with this principle in mind that the residents of Wayne, through a local organization, lend a hand to one of their own each year. The 2018 Wayne FRIENDS/ People Helping People project is about to get under way. FRIENDS coordinator Albert Damitio is seeking volunteers who are enthusiastic about helping others. Volunteers will be painting the exterior of a selected resident's home within the city.

The City of Wayne FRIENDS is a community program designed to give assistance to one Wayne resident whose home is in need of some care. FRIENDS is 100 percent volunteer-driven and organized. The program began in 1998 and sprang from an existing service to seniors which helped by mowing lawns, light maintenance, and removing unwanted brush.

An all-volunteer committee of ten works from May through October to publicize the project, research candidates and organize a "paint day." The organization receives no federal funding. Funds for the project are donated and materials are either donated or discounted by local suppliers. The city of Wayne helps out by providing storage space, meeting accommodations, and equipment usage, such as trash bags or trucks to haul away debris. In addition the city maintains a separate bank account for the organization to handle donations.

FRIENDS selects one resident each year to receive home maintenance assistance. The recipient must be a resident of Wayne, own their home and reside in it. They must also be unable to handle the work of routinely maintaining the outside of their home due to financial or medical reasons. Damitio says the program is open to homeowners only, not renters or housing investors. Candidates for the program are nominated each year by neighbors and friends. A FRIENDS Review Committee evaluates all nominees, narrows down the candidates and meets with prospective program recipients before making a final decision.

The program volunteers begin by preparing the home for a fresh coat of paint, which includes scraping old paint, caulking, attending to any minor repairs which may be identified, and removing shrubbery, trees and flowers as needed to free up available work space for the volunteer paint team. The preparation phase takes roughly three weeks.

FRIENDS does not perform major work on plumbing, electrical or structural repairs. Sometimes small maintenance jobs are necessary for the application of the paint. For example, an outdoor light fixture or storm door may be in need of replacing in order for the painters to do a complete job. The organization has in its assembly of volunteers, contractors, who are willing to donate their time and efforts.

Wayne Mayor Susan Rowe has been working with the FRIENDS Organization for more than 10 years. She says of the program, "It's really a way to just provide some of the routine maintenance that people sometimes can't do on their own." She adds that when residents are elderly, disabled or financially struggling, the appearance of the home often reflects the difficulty. Such homes become an eyesore in the neighborhood, dragging home values down on an entire block. She says the transformation of one home with a fresh coat of paint and a little tender loving care frequently prompts neighbors to do the same. Rowe emphasizes, "It's not a handout, it's a hand up." She adds that a home if often the only asset many people own, yet it does require upkeep. "It's an enormous responsibility to own a home," Rowe says.

Both Damitio and Rowe say they derive satisfaction from being able to help beautify a home, especially if that homeowner is struggling.

FRIENDS 2018 Paint Day is scheduled for Saturday, September 8. A home has already been selected and prepped. The workday runs about six hours total and will begin at 8:30 a.m. with a continental breakfast at the HYPE Recreation Center at 4635 Howe Road in Wayne. Lunch will be provided also. Damitio says volunteers need not be professional painters, nor do they need to be Wayne residents. Volunteers are also needed to supervise, help with serving lunch, and landscaping. Donations are welcome also.

For more information contact the Community Development Department at734-722-2000, or contact Albert Damitio at 734-729-2879 or e-mail him at [email protected].


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