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2022 Winner

“Melinda is a retired school teacher, widowed and because of an injury has been unable to work the last few years in retirement. The house is a very well known little white house on Howard Street. She takes pride in keeping it clean and well maintained over the years. However, in her retirement and with her injury, financially she has been unable to paint or replace the exterior siding, only able to talk about wanting it done. She has mentioned to me that she wishes she could afford to paint it and freshen it up.” 

— Brooke

Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination form for our Operation Community Refresh project here in Kalamazoo. Melinda was selected this year due to reasons listed above in the nomination form. She is very deserving and we were excited to complete this project for her. She is very appreciative and over joyed with the results of the fresh paint job on her home. It looks beautiful!

Van Tuinen Painting is proud to have completed the project to give back to the community that has given so much to our business for nearly 50 years. A special thank you goes out to Brooke who nominated Melinda for the project.

Van Tuinen Painting is looking forward to working with another deserving homeowner in 2023! Nomination forms will be out in the Spring.

The full Van Tuinen experience happened to my 100 year old house in Kalamazoo this summer, and it was sent from heaven.

My family doesn’t place much hope in contests. We just keep working and improvising to survive. But when Operation Refresh showed up on my daughter Brooke’s social media, she remarkably stepped out of character, and thinking about me, she gave the application a whirl.

Then it happened. Nick Barber, the owner of Van Tuinen Painting, came to my home and delivered the unforgettable, unbelievable, nearly misunderstood news. No, they were not pressure selling me a home repair. Yes, instead, I was offered a $10,000 painting job, and IT WAS FREE!!!!! After 25 years of hosing down stained siding, hand scrubbing it with dish towels, and hanging out attic windows to balance a roof rake duct taped to a broken mop, someone else was going to not only wash my house but also professionally do it right — including NEW PAINT!!!!!

To begin, Project Manager Nick Newhouse came out to explain the job details. He took time, and walked around my house and garage, helping me realize the magnitude of it all. Then came the painters, Steve and Matt. Steve and Matt accepted me as I am — a bit eccentric and particular, (in other words, fussy, highly excited, and I talk too much). But they fell right in. Soon it was great fun to have them in the yard and witness my house getting transformed. They proved to be hard-working and problem-solving, and both exhibited a natural friendliness. They maintained remarkable kindness and patience. Amazingly, they put up with me waiting til the very last moment to decide on the finishing paint colors out front, for example. And every day, they stopped to listen to my questions and ideas by tirelessly voicing experienced opinions.

Both of them scraped my exposed porches and old decking to the bone, until I kept remarking how I couldn’t believe they were so thorough and practically had to tell them, “Wow, that’s good enough!” They even patched holes in the aluminum siding and sanded until you never would have guessed my house once looked so in need of repair. But it was the east side of the garage that underwent perhaps the biggest transformation. My neighbors no longer have to stare at its overgrown trumpet vines and 20 years of peeling paint! You can see how badly it needed scraping in the photo, and they totally replaced the rotten wood panels along its bottom edge. No more crawling on the cold cement garage floor each winter, bending under old shelves to reach the gaps, and leaning pieces of roofing shingles along them to block out animals and snow.

Also, thank you to Sherwin Williams for donating hundreds and hundreds of dollars in gallons of paint. As you can see in the front porch photos, I absolutely love the new, clean look with a “Tradewind” hazy blue ceiling that finished off the two weeks of excitement. Van Tuinen maybe can’t imagine the wholehearted appreciation I feel that they chose me. And it is also a joy to know that each year, someone else will be gifted this same miracle — Operation Refresh.

— Melinda