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The Mission of Brush Up Buffalo is...

Iraq Veteran, Home on Leave, Gets Brush Up from Volunteers
News Staff Reporter

Ron Colleran/Buffalo News
Brush Up Buffalo volunteers lend a helping hand.

As an Army medic in Iraq, Kenneth Brown said he has seen it all.

But until Saturday, he had probably never seen 500 volunteers give up a late spring day to help other people paint their houses.

Brown's house was among 15 in his Kensington-Bailey neighborhood given a fresh look by volunteers of Brush Up Buffalo, an organization that helps low-income families beautify their homes.

Brown became eligible for the free paint job after his circumstances changed.

"I had been planning to fix up the house on my own," he said. "But then, well . . ." he said, he was deployed overseas.

With health problems challenging his wife, a working mother of two, and Brown off in Iraq, the couple were thankful for the generosity of spirit shown them by Brush Up Buffalo volunteers.

Brown, who is on a two-week leave, said he is grateful he did not have to take the precious time to paint the house himself.

"It would've taken me two or three days," he said, "but they're getting it done in three or four hours."

Roseann Scibilia, president of Brush Up Buffalo, said the group is intended to help neighbors.

"It's about people wanting to make the city more beautiful - one street at a time, one house at a time," she said.

Scibilia, part of Brush Up Buffalo since its start in 1996, said the annual one-day project has continued to grow.

"We paint 15 to 20 houses a year," she said, "and we've been all over the city, in many neighborhoods. The program gives volunteers, many of whom live in the suburbs, a chance to reconnect with the city."

There also is a chance for volunteers to get rid of any misconceptions about economically disadvantaged areas of the city, and their residents, Scibilia said.

"The volunteers get to see that these neighborhoods are rich with tradition," she said. "They also see that people want to stay in them, and that they're committed to their neighborhoods and committed to their homes.

"It dispels a lot of myths."

e-mail: jcalhoun@buffnews.com