How's your habitat?

Looking gnarly, worn, just plain messy?

Call a steering committee member and her friends.

"The Habitat (for Humanity) steering committee has been meeting monthly to plan fundraising to do A Brush With Kindness project," said Chatfield Habitat for Humanity chair Julie Young. "We have some applications out for these types of projects, but have not had them returned for final approval yet."

Young explained what the group has accomplished and what its next goals are. "Our mission is to provide free labor for community members to make home improvements to their homes, with no-interest loans which the homeowner will pay for with affordable monthly payments through A Brush With Kindness," she added.

Since its formation late last fall, Chatfield's Habitat for Humanity steering committee has held a rummage sale during Chill Fest, a disc golf and beanbag tournament this past weekend, and is selling raffle tickets for a playhouse to be given away during the Chatfield High School homecoming football game.

"The rummage and antique sale was our first fundraising project, and the community was very generous," Young recalled. "We will make this an annual event to be held on the Saturday of Chill Fest. Our current projects are a playhouse raffle, which is currently running and will be raffled off at the homecoming game at half time on September 26."

Young stressed, at this point, the committee would really like the local residents to know about the opportunities for home repair through the A Brush With Kindness program.

According to the Habitat for Humanity - Winona and Fillmore Counties website, "A Brush With Kindness is a program that helps low income homeowners by offering exterior home improvements. Volunteer teams work to improve the condition of the homes by painting, landscaping, and minor exterior repairs at minimal costs to homeowners who would be unable to complete home repairs on their own. Able-bodied homeowners are encouraged to work alongside the volunteers in a cooperative effort."

A Brush With Kindness focuses primarily on neighborhood beautification through minor exterior maintenance, landscaping and limited exterior painting projects.

A minimal program fee is necessary to help defray the cost of materials.

Requirements for program participants include that they must own and occupy a home that needs and could benefit from minor exterior improvements in Winona County or Fillmore County. The homeowners must meet income guidelines -which are homeowners earning 60 percent or less of the median income. The homeowners must also be willing to partner with Habitat and be unable to afford necessary home improvements and unable to complete them otherwise due to age, disability or circumstance.

The Chatfield Habitat members are hoping to receive applications from potential recipients very soon.

"Our biggest challenge at this point is finding someone willing to let us do A Brush With Kindness project at their home," Young said. "We are planning to do some neighborhood canvassing and take the A Brush With Kindness brochures door to door so that people understand what the program is and how it works. We are willing and ready to do our first project."

Numerous A Brush With Kindness projects have been completed throughout Fillmore County, including several in Harmony, Lanesboro and Spring Valley.

Young invited anyone who's ready to lend a hand to join the Chatfield Habitat for Humanity. "We welcome volunteers to help in a number of ways, and they do not need to attend the monthly meetings to be a volunteer - to be a volunteer, you must be 18 years of age, willing to do a variety of jobs, and enjoy helping people," she concluded. "We can use people skilled in carpentry, electrical work, painting, making signs, selling raffle tickets at area festivals, driving the playhouse in parades, and those just willing to help with anything! You do not need any specific skills, except to be willing to help."

For more information, log onto the Habitat for Humanity Winona-Fillmore Counties website at www.habitatwinona.org.