A fresh coat of paint, a pile of mulch and a bunch of flowers put a smile on the face of Ronald Butler, an Army veteran and resident of Eastern Avenue Apartments in Seat Pleasant.
Butler, 59, watched as more than 140 volunteers placed mulch around the apartment’s playground, planted flowers and painted a community room. The work was organized by The Mission Continues, a St. Louis-based nonprofit organization that honors lives lost in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks through community service on the anniversary of the tragedy.
“This is a beautiful thing they’re doing,” said Butler, who served in the Army from 1973 to 1974. “We really need that more around here. These people didn’t have to come here today but they took the time out.”
Eastern Avenue Apartments was chosen for the project because it is managed by Volunteers of America, a nonprofit human service organization. The VOA has partnered the last four years with The Mission Continues, which regularly connects veterans with community service projects year-round.
The project supplies were donated by Home Depot, American Express, Benjamin Moore and Target, said Danielle Milner, VOA Chesapeake communications specialist.
Eastern Avenue Apartments, an 88-unit complex, houses tenants that qualify for Section 8, a federal program that provides rental assistance to residents who quality based on income.
The VOA offers counseling to help residents get substance abuse and job training help and to provide special events such as Thanksgiving food basket giveaways, said Nancy Staten, a program manager for Eastern Avenue Apartments. There are 150 residents throughout the complex, and about 70 percent use the services Staten oversees, she said.
“I am truly elated,” Staten said of the renovations. “Everybody just came out and was so supportive.”
Iraq War veteran Phil Bauer, 36, led the Seat Pleasant project. Bauer of Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., became involved with The Mission Continues when he received a fellowship from the nonprofit to train golden retrievers, such as his service dog, Reece, through the Educating Canines Assisting with Disabilities.
Bauer is an amputee who lost a portion of his right leg after a helicopter accident in Iraq in November 2003, and Reece is an assistance dog he received in November 2009 through ECAD.
“They allowed me to be able to give back some of that time and gave me that leadership ability and support to know I could give back and prove myself,” Bauer said of ECAD and The Mission Continues.
Volunteers came from organizations such as AmeriCorps, Target, American Express and VOA, like Rob Malone of Upper Marlboro.
Malone, a chief business development officer for the VOA Lanham office, helped paint a mural inside the community room and said a lot of good work was done Tuesday.
“It was a pleasure to give, and I think it was just fun to meet new people, labor, and sweat and laugh and drip paint on the walls,” Malone said.