Normandy Shores resident Lila Dascher, 67, has lived in her home for 18 years and has always taken pride in her Pine Hills community. She is proud to know all her neighbors and has great affinity for her community. However, for the past six years, Dascher has been disabled and living on Social Security with a limited income – so the aesthetics of her home’s exterior has dwindled.
Dascher’s circumstances prompted Orange County Neighborhood Preservation & Revitalization’s Fixing Up the Neighborhood (FUN) Program to select her as one of the 15 recipients in the Normandy Shores neighborhood to receive a fresh coat of paint for her home along with minor exterior repairs – all free of charge. More than 20 volunteers came to her home to participate in the effort.
“When I found out I was chosen for this program, I cried because it is such a blessing,” Dascher said. “There’s no way I could have been able to afford to paint or actually paint the house myself because I need help with simple housework and yardwork and have limited mobility.” Since 2013, Orange County’s Neighborhood Preservation & Revitalization has partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando to serve two neighborhoods per year in the FUN program.
“Thanks to Habitat, we are able to paint more homes,” said Tabitha James, Orange County neighborhood coordinator. “The nonprofit provides the supplies and volunteers and Orange County pays for the minor exterior work, such as the pressure washing and paint priming.”
Habitat for Humanity’s partnership with the County’s FUN program is a natural extension of the nonprofit’s mission to increase access to affordable housing as well as preserve existing affordable homes.
Since its inception, the FUN program has helped provide a facelift to more than 200 homes in Orange County neighborhoods, including Conway Acres and Azalea Park. Neighborhood Preservation & Revitalization scouts lower-income communities in the area that are older and in need of exterior maintenance. Once a neighborhood is selected, residents may apply to get their homes painted.
Orange County District 6 Commissioner Victoria Siplin was onsite at Dascher’s home painting event.
“What Orange County and Habitat are doing is far more than providing a fresh coat of paint, they are revitalizing a sense of community and pride for the homeowners in the neighborhood,” Siplin said. “Despite the negative media attention on Pine Hills, many people don’t know that so many citizens have roots in Pine Hills and great things happen here on a daily basis.”
In collaboration with the FUN program, Habitat plans to paint homes at Normandy Shores throughout the month of March. In addition, Neighborhood Preservation & Revitalization will hold a community-wide clean-up at the end of March so residents can dispose of unwanted items they may have been collecting in their yards or homes.
To volunteer for the FUN program with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando, visit www.habitat-orlando.org/volunteer.