Residents, students gather for Paint-A-Thon
By MOLLY WALTER
The Hays Daily News
The Hays Rotary Club painted the town one house at a time, along with the help of Tigers in Service, during Saturday's third annual Paint-A-Thon. Volunteers from the Rotary Club and Fort Hays State University painted two houses on 14th Street.
The Paint-A-Thon is a project that was started by the Hays Rotary Club two years ago.
"It's a way for the Rotary Club to be community involved and also help some low-income, elderly and handicapped people in the community with painting their houses and general upkeep that way," said Greg Sund, president of the Rotary Club.
Sund volunteered to take charge of the event last year. Committee chair for this year's Paint-A-Thon was Scott Braun.
"This year, as president of the club, I wanted someone else to do it, and Scott stepped forward, which was wonderful. I'm glad to see other club members getting involved in these projects," Sund said.
In addition to the students who work, several Rotary Club members also volunteer.
"It's a really nice community effort," Sund said.
Most of the Rotarians who volunteered Saturday also had volunteered for the past two Paint-A-Thons.
"We believe in community service. We think it's a good thing to give back to the community," said Carol Solko-Olliff, a Rotary Club member.
"It's a need that the owner needs. We get college students and Rotary members together, and it's a positive for everybody," said Brad Botz, Rotary Club member.
The homeowners who apply for the Paint-A-Thon either have to be disabled or older than 60.
"So it's people that are at a disadvantage, and they really can't afford physically or financially to have their houses painted," said Becca Kohl, co-director of Tigers in Service. "It's an effort to get students out in the community and really help out personally in the community."
The paint for the houses was donated by Home Depot, and Domino's provided half of the pizzas the Paint-A-Thon needed for lunch.
There were two shifts of volunteers, from 8 to 11 a.m. and noon to 3 p.m., and with more than 100 volunteers scraping and painting, the job was finished in good time.
"It gets done pretty quickly when you have a lot of hands involved," Sund said.
"It's a really cool idea. I've worked in construction my whole life, so seeing people do this for free is awesome," said FHSU senior John Corman.
The Paint-A-Thon was also a good way for FHSU students who are involved in a student organization to complete required hours of community service.
"I helped out last year, and it was a lot of fun," FHSU sophomore Tandra Johnson said.
Johnson is a member of Alpha Kappa Psi. She also brought her 4-year-old sister, Taya Gross, to help paint.
"We're still getting our footing, trying to figure out how the program functions and how we get to the people. I think we'll just get better at it each year," Sund said. "I hope we can continue to have a good relationship with Tigers in Service. That definitely helps us pull off a very successful program."
Sund also said he wishes the Rotary Club could figure out a way to attract more applications. He said reaching people who might need these services is a challenge. He hopes to have more discussion about the program next year.
"I just appreciate everyone who steps up and becomes part of this program and works on it to make it better for residents of Hays. Maybe someday we can even reach out to the rest of the county," Sund said.