For one week each year, as part of an effort to reach out to the communities they serve, the employees of Zions Bank paint and repair the homes of elderly, disabled, or lower-income residents in their communities.
Since its beginnings 24 years ago, the Paint-A-Thon has spread across Utah and Idaho. During that time, more than 1,000 houses have now been painted by Zions volunteers. Moab’s own branch has participated for more than 12 years.
Beth McCue, local branch manager and Paint-A-Thon team captain, said there is a “major need” in the Moab area to help residents “who can’t go out and buy a can of paint or do the painting themselves.”
Zions mainly relies on the employees of the Grand Center and local churches to alert them to homeowners in need of some extra help. But this year, the branch found its way to Eliza Shepardson, a 68-year-old Moab native, through simple word-of-mouth.
DeVon Shepardson, Eliza’s daughter and a former Zions bank employee, always thought her mother would benefit from the help of the Paint-A-Thon. After leaving the bank, DeVon was free to nominate her mother’s house – a structure that has not once seen a coat of paint – for help.
“My mom is a humble lady,” DeVon said. “She doesn’t think she deserves anything.”
Eliza Shepardson first moved to Moab as a young girl in the 1960s with her family. She worked and raised her own family here, living in many areas across town before settling into her current home 18 years ago. She has seen the mobile home park in which she lives shift over the years. The ownership of the park has changed several times, and it is growing ever more crowded with residents, she said. Now, this June brings a rent increase, a difficult change for its residents, who, Shepardson said, “can’t afford nothing else.”
Zions Bank employees Tricia Scott and Edgar Fuentes hoped a fresh coat of paint would help alleviate some of the worry for Shepardson. While carefully applying a second coat of paint to her shutters last week, Scott and Fuentes stressed the value of giving back to the community.
“It’s important to volunteer while you can because at some point in your life, you’re going to need somebody to help you too,” Scott said.
By occasionally painting what she could reach with a small brush alongside the others, Shepardson seemed to accept all the help in stride. It was something to which she was unaccustomed.
During the Paint-A-Thon, Shepardson, a woman described by her daughter as ‘”taking care of everybody but herself,” had 12 volunteers and a handful of relatives caring for her for a few days. Looking over her house, the new color she chose brought to life by the volunteers on ladders and working with paint poles, Shepardson simply said, “These people are wonderful.”
Beyond making a visible change to the community, McCue said the reward of volunteering each year is simply “making the homeowners happy.”
If the smile on Shepardson’s face was any indication, the group accomplished that goal again this year.