Kiwanis give hands, hearts to painting project

Published 6:46 am Thursday, June 26, 2008

They are a familiar sight in their northwest Austin neighborhood.

Marcella Schabacker and her adult son, Terry, plus their dog, coming and going from the attractive home at 1100 Second Ave. N.W.

They used to ride bikes: Terry on a two-wheeler and Marcella on a three-wheeler.

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Marcella suffered macular degeneration of her eyes, which curtailed her mobility further.

Austinites will remember the familiar sight of Terry and his coffee wagon, selling refreshments to workers on the job.

When Marcella isn’t using her walker, Terry will take his mother’s hand and guide her to their destination.

Their dog has a long leash and a large dog tied in the middle lest he get away and try to chase a cat, squirrel, bird or some other imagined enemy.

The Schabackers were busy Tuesday, walking here and there around their house, pausing to rest in the shade of the garage and marvel at the sight.

It’s not always half a dream comes true.

“I’ve always said I wanted a yellow house and a yellow car. Now, I’ve got my yellow house and I’m very happy,” Marcella said.

The reason: Austin’s Early Morning Kiwanis Club completed another Mower County Chores Program house-painting project this week.

Not only are the men and women of the club talented house-painters, they are dream-makers for the woman and her son.

It took parts of two days — Tuesday and Wednesday — to complete the project. Ten Early Morning Kiwanis Club members came and went, contributing as much time as they could to the house- and garage-painting.

Nancy Donahue, coordinator of the county’s Chores Program and a part-time senior advocate, once again put the project together.

Another senior client’s home was painted by volunteers on the National Day of Caring held in May, but the Schabacker project was separate from that project which used paint donated from the Sherwin Williams store in Austin.

Donahue is the original coordinator of the Chore Program, when it began two decades ago.

“Painting homes was one of the objectives of the grant we received from the Area Agency on Aging,” she explained of the genesis of the Chore Program in Mower County.

To date, including the Schabacker project, 41 homes have been painted.

“We’ve been very fortunate in our area to have such good community support,” she said.

Nobody has been more supportive than the Early Morning Kiwanis Club members and that’s what they were doing this week in the northwest Austin neighborhood.

Marcella Schabacker and her husband, Frederick J.T., who died in 1989, moved into the home in 1942.

“We’ve seen a lot of people come and go from the neighborhood,” Marcella said.

In their 66 years living in the home, the house was originally a dark green in color before being repainted light green.

New vinyl windows with shutters and landscaping work coupled with the new coat of pastel yellow paint will enhance the home even more.

“I think it’s a great idea. I never realized there were so many good people in the world who would do something like this,” Terry said.

His mother was overjoyed.

“We appreciate all the good work they are doing for us. They are so kind,” she said.

“Mother and I also appreciate Nancy’s work. She’s done so many good things for us,” said Terry.

One of the working professionals was Rick Young, an oral surgeon, who is volunteering his time from his dental practice.

“This is absolutely wonderful,” said Young. “I had some time free so I came down here.

“This is the best project I think our Early Morning Kiwanis Club does,” Young said.

The club did its first house painting project in 1989 and has painted 16 consecutive Chore Program homes since that time.

Eligible senior citizens can apply to Donahue for a house painting. They must meet specific requirements to qualify. For more information about the Mower County Chore Program, senior citizens should call Donahue at 433-8376.