No. 887



Have you ever said to yourself, “What a difference a new coat of paint makes.” Well I have, many times. I have said this in relation to our home after it had just had a fresh coat of paint sealer, especially after the second time; various pieces of furniture; our kitchen table; the metal ornamental chairs out in the yard; and many other things. These thoughts came to mind when I read a true story featured in a recent issue of American Profile magazine. The title of the article was “Coats of Confidence,” in case you would like to read it from their archives.
From the beginning, let me be very clear. The purpose of my sharing this with you is not to repeat the article but to draw some principles and parallels that we can apply to our own lives, to make them more rewarding and interesting. Here is the story.
When Jim Cotter’s wife Marjorie passed away this past year, he sought to take his mind off his grief and focus on a positive pursuit. Jim, 81, was living in Kettering, Ohio, but was originally from Glouster, Ohio (pop. 1,791). He returned to his hometown, where he and his sister Judy Moore, 83, began sprucing up this dilapidated coal mining community.
As he said, “I have been thinking about doing something like this for a long time, and this seemed to be just the right time to do it.” He was a retired sign painter and advertising agency owner. He started by painting the town’s fire hydrants, and as they washed windows, picked up trash and scraped peeling paint from vacant buildings, passersby who saw them working joined in. Before long, they had help of more than 40 volunteers, and a steady stream of donated money and painting supplies.
Since their work began in spring, 2012, the Glouster Volunteers, as Cotter’s crew calls itself, have painted 45 homes and businesses and have also installed fencing, cleared weeds, leveled and seeded vacant lots, and painted and installed windows in the Trimble High School stadium. “It’s amazing to see the buildings looking so nice now,” says volunteer June Bingman, 78, a Glouster resident. “It gives people a sense of pride in their community.”
Here is one of the important points I wanted to make. “I have been waiting for a mission in my life, and Mr. Cotter came in and jumpstarted all of us,” says volunteer Eric Faires, 42, a stay-at-home-dad and Glouster native. “A lot of folks in town wanted to do something but did not know where to start.”
The article concludes with these thoughts from Jack Nagucki, 61, a retired teacher, as he stands high on a ladder prepping the eves with a paint scraper he brought from home. “I knew if I brought it, they would put me to work scraping,” he says, “But I don’t mind, I love doing this.”
Now to those principles and parallels I mentioned earlier. The one I just stated by Eric Faires should be obvious. Many people will follow the person, man or woman, who has a real mission, if the cause is just, they begin on their own, lead by example, and not try to organize and get someone else to do it. Then there is the matter of age. Jim Cotter was 81 when he started and his sister Judy Moore was 83. This just says that age really does not matter if the task is something we can physically do and we are still in relatively good health. It’s true. We are only as old as we feel. Another truth is that often a project like this, where we give back, can often extend our life several months or even years. Exercise is good for the body and our emotions, giving a feeling of well being that is often good for the soul.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)