It was while walking my dog this morning that I came across a group of Canadian college students scraping and painting a house near the corner of Connecticut and Normal. It turns out that the team members were all sporting Love Buffalo shirts. I asked one of the painters what they were up to, and he told me that they were part of a ministry group that was painting houses on the East and West Sides of the city. The East side painting contingent is called BreakOut Buffalo.
As I watched the painters work on this charming little house, I was approached by team leader Bob Kuebler who has been doing this sort of volunteer work for years. His Youth With A Purpose – Mentor Force has been teaching young people to not only respect each other, but to respect their surroundings. “I live on the East Side,” he told me. “We work with gang members, to try to turn them into role models. We host basketball games with a lesson. In order to play, they must listen to positive messages. If we can turn some of these kids around, then they can act as mentors to others that they come across.”
Over the last few days, BreakOut Buffalo and Love Buffalo groups have worked on a dozen houses. This is an ongoing initiative that not only offers volunteers a chance to do something good for the community, it also greatly improves the city’s housing stock. A win-win for all involved.