FAMILY TIES: Rockhampton 87-year-old Jessie Harris shares family memories with Rockhampton Legacy Pensions and Welfare Officer Ruth Gardner.
FAMILY TIES: Rockhampton 87-year-old Jessie Harris shares family memories with Rockhampton Legacy Pensions and Welfare Officer Ruth Gardner. Melanie Plane

Volunteers show up to paint widow's home for free

IN A COMMUNITY like Rockhampton, it's not uncommon to know the bloke at the paint shop, the local painters and a few people you regularly see around town.

But when they all show up on your 87-year-old mum's doorstep to paint her house for free, it's something special.

A troupe of about 15 volunteers turned up at Rockhampton widow Jessie Harris' home on Saturday morning to treat her quaint 65-year-old family home to a makeover.

The generous act was the initiative of Australian charity Berger Paint for a Mate which lends a helping DIY hand to local widows or families affected by war through Legacy Australia, by giving their homes a much needed makeover.

While Mrs Harris watched the action from inside with a cup of tea in hand, her sons Jim and Ken joined many other volunteers to put brush to house.

Jim said the event was a true show of community spirit.

"It really touches home in a situation like this," Jim said.

"Mum was ecstatic when she found out about it. I rang her and she said 'I've got some great news, RSL is going to paint my house' it meant a lot to her.

"My dad was an ex painter and I think it was about 1995 when he last painted the house last; so about 20 years ago."

Jim said the house was more than just a place to live, but rather a home filled with war history, family memories and plenty of love.

"Mum's parents bought the place in 1959 when they moved to Rockhampton and my grandfather was a WWI veteran," he said.

"My father was a WWII returned soldier and my parents moved in here in 2000 to look after my grandmother who in turn passed away in 2003 at 101 years of age.

"We lost my father in 2007 and mum's lived here ever since by herself."

Jim said when it came to choosing the new colour scheme of the house; Mrs Harris had the final say.

"My brother had a little bit to do with the colour scheme as well as Kevin from Inspirations Paint Rockhampton," he said.

"Mum was pretty set on the blue and white here and in seeing what the boys have done today; it's much like the name of the paint shop, inspirational."

With three children, 10 grand children and five great grandchildren who all love visiting Mrs Harris, Jim was sure the freshly-painted home would be in the family for many years to come.



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