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'A day on, not a day off': Westminster Shores residents touching lives through Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Project with Habitat for Humanity

January 21, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG, January 21 – A fresh coat of blue paint adorns a Habitat for Humanity home in South St. Petersburg, applied by a group of Westminster Shores residents Monday morning. It was part of Habitat’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service project, featuring six homes on one block being repainted and one additional having landscape work done, all with the support of local homeowners.

Westminster Shores is delighted to be a sponsor of this year’s MLK Day of Service, part of the community’s commitment to touching lives through service. The sponsorship helps pay for paint and supplies, with the labor donated by a variety of groups, from local companies to St. Petersburg High School. The lead grant for the project was provided by St. Petersburg College.

George Meese, a Westminster Shores resident and longtime Habitat volunteer, has built a group of fellow residents who work on houses nearly every week. “It is really, really rewarding to make a contribution to the community,” said Meese. “Today is part of a broader partnership between Habitat and the Shores.”

Today’s house-painting was done on a home owned by India Kyler, which was built by the same group of resident volunteers in 2016-2017. “This is so wonderful,” Kyler said. “They’re like a second family to me, and are doing such a wonderful job.” Kyler has lived in the home since it was built, with her three daughters.

Wielding paint brushes on one of the coldest mornings of 2019, Meese and a group of eight volunteers worked side-by-side with a group of St. Petersburg High School students to repaint the house’s faded coral stucco a cheerful shade of blue. Meese said that they had volunteered for several years on Day of Service projects, and that it was especially rewarding to return to Kyler’s home to refresh the paint, because they had helped build her home.

Habitat for Humanity says that the MLK Day of Service is an amazing opportunity to further Dr. King’s legacy. “Today isn’t our day off, it’s our day on,” said Sean King, Director of Community Relations. “We have more than 100 volunteers here today, working on beautification projects.”

In the last few years, Habitat for Humanity has built more than 20 homes in the South St. Pete area, with the support of many Westminster Shores volunteers. The Shores team even contributed to help build Habitat’s new office in the area. On Monday, King estimated that all six houses would have been completely repainted by lunchtime.

Reverend Bill Hull, a Westminster Shores resident who has been involved for several years, said that the experience of volunteering for Habitat is incredibly rewarding — and another part of keeping Westminster Shores residents active through aging, as well as with the support of the community’s volunteers program.

“It’s really an amazing experience,” Hull said. “We go to the dedication ceremonies, and meet the families who live in these homes, it really brings it all together. I went to one and I arrived early, and this little kid grabs my hand and drags me back to his room to show me, all excited: ‘I gotta show you something!’ He says, ‘This is the first bedroom I’ve ever had.’ I gave him a hug.”

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