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Sugar House Journal

Zions Bank Paint-a-Thon a ‘treat’ for volunteers

Jul 29, 2019 15h20 ● By Jenniffer Wardell

Mika Nikolic paints a window frame during this year’s Paint-a-Thon. (Jenniffer Wardell/City Journals)

By Jenniffer Wardell | [email protected]

We're all part of the same community. 

That's the guiding philosophy behind the 29th annual Zions Bank's Paint-a-Thon, which was held in June at locations throughout Utah and Idaho. More than 3,000 Zions Bank employees volunteered their time to paint and do yardwork for the elderly, veterans and others. Some of those volunteers were in Sugar House, painting the home and cleaning the yard of a 91-year-old widow.

"It's been awesome giving back to the community," said Megan Goettsche, one of the team leaders for the Sugar House project. "It’s been lots of fun, and this homeowner in particular is very sweet.”

More than 1,800 homes were painted across both states, many of which were chosen by housing agencies, community groups and local churches. For the first time, members of the public were also able to nominate homeowners. 

“This homeowner is a longtime resident of Sugar House,” said Tanner Sirstins, the other team leader for the project. “She’s got a lot of friends who care about her and her well-being, and we want her to be able to stay here as long as she can.”

In addition to the nominations, team leaders also do some searching of their own. 

“We call different community groups and check to see who might be able to participate,” Sirstins said. 

When all nominations have come in, employees at Zions Bank determine which nominees are most qualified and in need of assistance. Income, age, and veteran status are all looked at, as well as whether or not the person has a disability. 

Once nominees are chosen, the volunteers get their assignments. 

“Each year we get new ideas for new people,” he said. “It’s cool to bring those ideas to life and see how we can improve them.” 

Given the name of the event, paint is always the first step. Although the Sugar House home had siding that didn't need to be repainted, volunteers did sand down and repaint the window frames. They also repainted the garage door. 

"It was stripped bare of paint in some places," he said. 

Volunteers also worked on various other maintenance projects on the exterior of homes. These depended on the homeowner's needs and ranged from pruning and mowing to planting and minor home repairs. At the Sugar House home, volunteers weeded the bushes, prepared a garden bed and cleaned the backyard.

"Our goal is to improve the overall look of the home," he said. 

The majority of volunteers arrived around 5:30 p.m. and stayed for a few hours. Goettsche and Sirstins would often arrive as early as 2 p.m. to get started. 

"We get here a little earlier because we're captains," Goettsche said. "Our volunteers get here any time they can get off work, because we're all still working during the day." 

Still, there were plenty of people willing to help after their workday was done. 

"Most of the employees look forward to doing it each year," Sirstins said. "It's a treat."

For Goettsche, that “treat” comes from making connections with the people she and her team helped. 

"(My favorite part has been) getting to know the homeowner and her family and just how happy we've made them," she said. 

For Sirstins, that sense of connection stretches even wider. 

"It makes me feel like part of the city, even though I don't live here," he said.