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Local home sparkles thanks to Zions community project

Sun Advocate publisher

Gary Meeks

Seventy-seven year old Leah Wells from Wellington says its much easier for her to give than to take. Wells, a native of eastern Utah has been giving most of her life but this past week was her turn to receive.

Her home in East Wellington was one of 47 homes in Utah and Idaho that were part of the 13th annual Zions Bank Paint-a-Thon project held last week. Locally over a dozen bank employees and their families worked all week sprucing up Leah's home. They were part of more than 2,500 volunteers who scraped, prepped and painted homes in the state's largest single-employer volunteer event of its kind.

This year, employees from Zions Bank's Price, Castle Dale and Huntington offices banded together to paint and help landscape Miss Wells' home.

"At first I said no," explained Wells, who has lived in the same home for more than 30 years. But after some discussion she agreed to allow the group to work on her home. In the time she has lived there it has been painted at least five times, three by Leah and twice by people she hired to do it..

Miss Wells grew up in Emery County and spent 19 years in the classroom as a teacher and 12 years in Wellington as a secretary in the schools office. "I met a lot of wonderful people teaching," she said.

Miss Wells has been a Zion's Bank customer for as long as she has had a checking account, "The bank financed this home and a couple cars over the years for me."

Miss Wells is struggling with her health the past few years suffering with diabetes, heart problems and osteoporosis. She has sisters in Price and Ogden and a brother in Salt Lake City.

She has been active her entire life in the LDS church.

Street shot of Leah Wells home in Wellington with Zion bank employees and their families busy scraping and painting.

"I was an adult before I had a radio and it had a wet cell battery," recalls Miss Wells reflecting on the many changes technology has brought over the years. "These years have been both wonderful and terrible, depending on how you look at it. Who would have thought we'd have fax machines, the Internet, or e-mail? She says these modern technologies have lost much of live's simplicities. "But they are blessings at the same time."

"There's nothing so rewarding as seeing home owners stand out on their sidewalks, looking with pride at their freshly painted homes, or smiling at the petunias planted in their gardens," said Joel Hatch, manager of Zions Bank's Price office."Our team at Zions look forward to this time every year, because it's a way for us to get out from behind our desks and teller windows to help improve the community in which we live and work."

Launched in 1991, Zions Bank's Paint-a-Thon began as a volunteer project for a dozen homes along Utah's Wasatch Front. Over the past 12 years, Zions Bank employees have put aside summer pastimes for a week each year - volunteering in the evenings after work and on Saturday - to scrape, prep and paint a total of 428 homes throughout Utah and Idaho. Homes painted by Zions Bank employees are located from Hyrum to St. George in Utah, and from Lewiston to Pocatello in Idaho.

The Paint-a-Thon is targeted to low-income, elderly, and disabled home owners. The average age of this year's homeowner is 73, with an average monthly income of $970. Projects completed during the annual week long event are selected with the assistance of state housing agencies, community organizations and local churches.

In addition to painting, Zions employees provide yard cleanup, pruning, mowing, planting and minor repairs as needed by home owners.

This year, one city park and one historical building were also landscaped by Paint-a-Thon volunteers. The cost for all paint and supplies is contributed by Zions Bank.

"We recognize that banking is a local business, and that for us to be successful, we must have very strong ties to the communities we serve," said Scott Anderson, Zions Bank president and CEO. "The annual Paint-a-Thon provides an excellent opportunity for all of our employees to take an active part in our cities and towns."

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