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Elderly, disabled targeted for spring paint project

LAWTON, Okla._ A community paint day to take place next month here is aimed at bringing blighted homes back to life.

The focus will be on elderly and disabled homeowners looking to spruce up their curb appeal. A simple application process has already been set up and can be viewed here. Tony Griffith, director of Neighborhood Services, says the more needy applicants will be pushed to the front of the line.

"I need to get out there and do something to the house, but I knew I couldn't," says Lee Clemons, 73, whose home was one of the first selected for a facelift. "My bones, physically I couldn't do it anymore."

There are already more than 500 volunteers committed to help out on April 25, which includes many Ft. Sill soldiers who have chosen to donate their time to help make the project a success.

Clemons, Lawton, can still remember painting her home along NW 26th Street herself back in the 1970s, but that is now an impossible task due to her existing heart condition and struggle with breathing.  

"I've thought about it for five years and then to have it come to fruition is amazing," says Clemons after hearing the good news.

Griffith says it is people like her he's excited to help out.

"This is a part of my job that I am tickled about because here I get to do something that I like doing that makes me feel good," says Griffith. "It's a give back. It's something that's positive (and) benefits the community where everyone walks away with a smile."

Jay Burke, who represents Ward 4 on the Lawton City Council, heads up the Lawton Enhancement Trust Authority (LETA) who is helping out as well, and he says this type of service project has been needed in the city for years.

"This is a perfect way to say we can help our own," says Burke.

Burke and Griffith say they plan on picking 30 homes to revitalize and it will all be done in one day. They hope the fresh coat of paint will get nearby neighbors thinking about what they can do to beautify their own homes.

"We're not just looking to do 30 homes," says Griffith. "We are hoping we start a fire (and) that the 30 generates 300 homes."

Burke says it'll be an opportunity to bring the community closer while making it a more beautiful place to call home.

"It just tells you how much Lawton pulls together when times are tough and to help those that need our help."

For those interested in donating their time or money to the project, they can contact Griffith at Neighborhood Services at (580) 581-3467 or stop by Lawton City Hall for more information.

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