Former Ohio First Lady helps elderly woman get home painted

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When it’s time to put a fresh coat of paint on the house, many home owners say “gimme a ladder and a brush.” But for those who are elderly or low-income, keeping up a home is not quite as simple. Former Ohio first lady Hope Taft stepped in and helped a woman who was in this very predicament.

It’s sunny and there’s a slight breeze to help cool former Ohio First Lady Hope Taft as she shears away some weeds growing on her friend’s yard on Mount Vernon Avenue. Taft met her long-time friend, Virginia Anderson, 35 years ago, when Bob Taft moved to Columbus to serve as Secretary of State.

“She and I served on a non-profit board together,” Taft said.

A couple of years ago, Taft said Anderson, who is widowed and in her 80s, told her the city of Columbus wanted her to make some repairs to her house that had peeling lead paint.

“They were really concerned about the paint, about the gutters on the garage, about a few broken windows,” Taft said.

But Taft said Anderson did not have the funds. So the repairs were never carried out and Anderson was threatened with fines. That’s when Taft said she knew she needed to help.

“Well if she had the money for the fine, she’d have the money to repair the house,” she said.

Taft said she contacted the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio to see if they had some left over paint that could be used for Anderson’s home – and they did.

“By all means we can do that,” John Remy, communications director for SWACO, said.

Remy said SWACO is always looking for new ways to keep used items out of the landfills. He said they got together a bunch of old white paint, or paint that was close to being white anyway, and blended it together to come up with 30 gallons of paint for Anderson’s home.

“And it’s not something that you’re going to go out and put on and it’s going to be the greatest in the world but it’s usable!”

Remy said, while Taft’s request was a special case, there may be other situations where old paint can be new again.

“We hear from our contractors, our household hazardous waste contractors, that this indeed is something that there may be a demand for it, for ‘green’ paint,” he said.

Taft said MICA, Minority and Independent Contractors Alliance, painted Anderson’s home and made other repairs.

Ohio’s former first lady said Columbus has programs that help low-income people in situations like Anderson’s. But Taft said her friend did not qualify for them.

Anderson was not home for comment.

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