Dobie seniors Chris Guy and Chelsea Jenkins use a nail gun to close up the final stretch of board fencing at the Sagemont home of Emil Zapalac.
By AL CARTER
Pasadena ISD Communications
From the street corner, it was difficult to find Lois Burns' house, covered, as it was, by a fresh coat of Pasadena High seniors.
Eventually, the high-school work crew broke ranks for refreshments, allowing Burns the chance to get a clear view of the progress they had made refurbishing the exterior of her South Houston home.
"This is going to look just like it did 46 years ago when I moved in," she said with a big smile.
Burns' home was one of two dozen in South Houston, Pasadena and in the South Belt area that became beehives of benevolent activity on Friday, all part of the annual Seniors Helping Seniors project.
Seniors from all five Pasadena ISD high schools, as well at the L.P Card Career and Technology Center, spent the morning hours and part of the afternoon scraping, painting, caulking, weeding, power-washing and thoroughly revitalizing the homes of senior citizens limited in their ability to keep up with their property.
The project is a partnership between the Pasadena ISD, the group Rebuilding Together-Houston and various other agencies and sponsors. Rebuilding Together-Houston is the largest organization in the nation providing free home repairs for elderly and low-income homeowners.
The community-service formula for Seniors Helping Seniors was expanded this year to include more than just frame houses. To deal with the issue of aging homes in the Sagemont area, Dobie High students received permission to work on projects in the South Belt community.
With assistance from Sagemont Church, the Helping Hands organization and other groups, Dobie seniors tackled four neighborhood homes. The transformation of Emil Zapalac's home took several days and produced a near-miraculous transformation.
Brush was so thick in the backyard that chain saws and vine-cutters were required to remove it. Two huge trees were cut down and removed. OSHA-approved scaffolding was brought in to help students paint the upper reaches of the two-story home.
The detached garage had to be completely removed. So thick was the brush surrounding the building that the walls would not fall even after the corners were cut. Vines held the sides in place, requiring more cutting.
"This is fantastic - just wonderful," said Zapala, a retired landscape architect who is hobbled by arthritis.
Zapalac marveled over the skill of one Dobie crew that nailed together the back portion of a new wood fence in about 15 minutes.
"That fence went up - instantly!" he said.
Dobie officials already have permission to include the Zapalac home on their Seniors Helping Seniors work list for 2012.
The next group of Longhorn seniors is coming back next May - to rebuild that garage.
Emory Gadd, director of Youth Ministry at Sagemont Church, visits with Emil Zapalac while Dobie seniors give his Sagemont home a thorough makeover.
Pasadena High seniors Andre Lozada and Kennia Estrada work on landscaping tasks while classmates paint the exterior of Lois Burns' home in South Houston.
Job Calzonci, Fernando Obregon and Abel Naranjo -- all seniors at the L.P. Card Center -- lend their skills to a make it a banner day for a Pasadena resident.
Traffic's always heavy at Brush Hour: Memorial High seniors Linnette Villanueva, Sagrario Zuniga, Andrew Orazco, Bianca Caceres, Diana Rivas, Gabriel Rojas, Tabatha Romero, Alex Pena and Natalie Juarez team up on a home in Pasadena.
Two rays of sunshine, Sam Rayburn seniors Johan Contreras and Aldo Vasquez, apply their Rembrandt skills to the hard-to-reach spots of a Pasadena home.
Dobie seniors Theresa Greene and Destiny Bellamy adjust their ladder before going back to work on a house in the Sagemont area.
Dobie senior Maria Rosales catches up with a missed spot while painting a Sagemont home.
South Houston High senior Gabriel Padron peers down from a sizzling rooftop while finishing up the trim on the crest of a home in Pasadena.