Oddie Heydorn sat with her camera in her lap as 20 volunteers sharpened her home's appearance with a layer of fresh paint.
Heydorn, 87, has lived in her northeast Omaha home 59 years, so she's attached to it.
“I wouldn't want to go anywhere else,” Heydorn said. “I want to stay here until they carry me out, I think.”
The gray and white paint job came through the kindness of Brush Up Nebraska, a volunteer program that celebrated its 25th year of service Saturday in Douglas and Sarpy Counties and Council Bluffs.
Brush Up Nebraska's annual Paint-A-Thon uses corporate sponsorships and painting teams from companies, churches, the military and other sources to beautify the homes of low-income elderly and disabled people.
Eighty-three houses received new coats of paint Saturday — a total of 900 gallons' worth — through the work of about 1,800 volunteers. The volunteers at Heydorn's house came from Gavilon, a commodities trading company.
“For me, it's a chance to really feel like I'm doing a service for the community,” said Carl Peterson, the Gavilon painting group's co-leader, along with Casey Larsen. The team had prepared the house the previous Saturday and Wednesday, then put on the final coat Saturday.
Tom Pettigrew, the only paid staffer with Brush Up Nebraska, said 2,578 homes have been painted in the organization's 25 years. Brush Up Nebraska's main event is its Paint-A-Thon, which takes place the third Saturday in August of each year.
A team from St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Millard has participated in all 25 Paint-A-Thons.
“Every single year,” said Jay Schroeder, the church's team leader. “Yes, we have.”
Schroeder walked by another team member, 73-year-old Virgil Lienemann, who arranged a chair so he could work on the side of Dorothy Wright's home in South Omaha.
“Oh, you're gonna sit down and take it easy now, huh?” Schroeder kidded Lienemann, a retired truck driver.
Wright, 77, lives with her great-grandson, Tyler Haney, in the home that she has inhabited about 20 years. She recently retired as a Walmart greeter.
The church crew painted her home dark green and beige, as she requested. “Oh, I love that color,” she said as they brushed on the green.
“That's sure nice of them,” Wright said. “I wish I could pay back. But I'm on my Social Security and that's it.”
Two of the team members were Millard South High School seniors Emily Hohenstein and Alyssa Hopkins.
“It's my first time ever painting anything,” Alyssa said. “Anything Emily does, I do.”
Four companies founded Brush Up Nebraska 25 years ago: Norwest Bank (now Wells Fargo), Diamond Vogel Paints, ConAgra Foods and US West (now CenturyLink). Although Tom Pettigrew is the sole paid staffer, he said his wife, Sheila, is his co-executive director.
At Oddie Heydorn's house, Casey Larsen hobbled around on crutches, having just been released from the Immanuel Medical Center emergency room. He fell off a ladder Saturday morning and his ankle got twisted inside the rungs. It's just a sprain, he said.
Heydorn lives on one lush, grassy acre. A huge tree shaded her house and the painters as well. The air was cool.
Heydorn baked cookies for the workers, who also trimmed bushes and low-hanging branches. Her daughter will visit from Arizona soon, Heydorn said, and everything will look so nice that the daughter won't recognize the place.