Volunteers spruce up senior center

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Joseph Deming and Venecia Matos, volunteers from Enterprise and Schoolhouse Apartments in Waterbury, a WinnCompanies property, paint a doorframe at the Naugatuck Senior Center during Habitat for Humanity of Greater Waterbury’s Brush with Kindness event Saturday. Habitat for Humanity, WinnCompanies and other volunteers spent three days painting, weeding, sprucing up and doing repairs to the center. JIM SHANNON/REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

NAUGATUCK — Habitat for Humanity in Waterbury took a step back from its usual work last week to fix-up and update the Naugatuck Senior Center.

Typically, Habitat for Humanity spends its time building homes for low-income individuals. When Executive Director Arlene Greco joined the organization in January, she said she wanted to work on a project for another one of the 11 towns served by the organization. When WinnCompanies, a housing development group, reached out to Habitat to team up for a project, Greco said she knew putting work into the senior center would be the perfect opportunity for the first outreach outside of Waterbury with an initiative called “A Brush with Kindness.”

“We could touch a lot of lives at once with this and we could do it for the seniors in Naugatuck,” she said. “My main thing is that we want to help people and start doing things in other communities. We really wanted to start extending to other areas and make a difference.”

The three-day project consisted of painting doors, painting walls, hanging signs, moving furniture, landscaping and other cosmetic updates.

Greco said they are hoping to surprise the seniors when they return after Labor Day weekend with all the improvements.

Deputy Mayor Laurie Taf-Jackson was on hand Saturday, helping the Habitat volunteers with the much-needed facelift.

“When the seniors come in on Tuesday, they’re going to absolutely love it,” she said. “It looks beautiful.”

Venecia Matos, a bookkeeper at Winn, said the company’s mission is to give back to the areas they serve.

“This is a senior center, but it’s also a warming shelter in the winter,” she said. “We want to keep this up to date because it serves not only the seniors, but the community.”

The project made an impact on the volunteers as they worked to get the job done.

Arlene Greco, executive director for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Waterbury, right, looks on as volunteers move furniture back into place during the Brush with Kindness event Saturday at the Naugatuck Senior Center. Habitat for Humanity, WinnCompanies and other volunteers spent three days painting, weeding, sprucing up and doing repairs to the center. JIM SHANNON/REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

Volunteer Pattie Zennis, 68, of Waterbury said she loved the experience and plans to continue to work with Habitat on future projects.

“My favorite part is being able to know I’m helping these people and myself,” she said.

Zennis went to school for carpentry and said she loves doing anything with a hammer in her hand, which is why she spent a lot of her time hanging up anything she could.

Volunteer Teresa Lamb of Southbury, a retired teacher, said she is happy to spend her time giving back to the Habitat after wanting to be a part of it for years.

“It’s a good cause, like everything they do,” she said. “There are so many people involved. I don’t think a lot of people know about how many people want to do things and help.”

Greco said when all was said and done, the three-day project will have made a lasting impact.

“It was a wonderful collaboration between the city of Naugatuck, the WinnCompanies and Habitat, all working together to make a difference in our communities.”