Painting It Forward: Paint Pros from Across the Nation Team Up to Give Back in Albuquerque

The Painting Contractors Association’s PCA Expo started a day early this year for one group of painters, who united to give back to a local community in need. On February 21 – the day before the 2023 PCA Expo kicked off in Albuquerque, New Mexico – more than 100 volunteers from across the United States gathered at the historic Gibson Health Hub for the PCA’s first annual Paint It Forward event.

Helping the homeless

In 2021, the Gibson Health Hub – a former hospital with deep ties to the local community – was acquired by the City of Albuquerque. The city government planned to renovate Gibson into the Gateway Center, a community resource hub with offerings including a women’s shelter, overnight beds, and addiction and psychiatric treatment.

Unfortunately, after years of disrepair and changing ownership, the Gateway Center needed significant restoration and repainting.

That’s where the PCA came in. The organization coordinated with the city government and companies like Sherwin-Williams to set up the event.

“Giving back to the community is in our company’s DNA, so we jumped at the opportunity to support the PCA in this initiative,” says Belinda Zamora of Sherwin-Williams.

In addition to donating supplies and coatings, Zamora says local Sherwin-Williams representatives worked with the PCA and the City of Albuquerque on product specs and logistics ahead of the event.

The right paint for the project

Since this was a health care facility, the Sherwin-Williams team recommended SuperPaint® Interior Acrylic with Air Purifying Technology.*

Thanks to innovative technology and a zero VOC formula, this advanced SuperPaint formula contributes to better indoor air quality by reducing VOC levels from potential sources like carpet, cabinets and fabrics. It also helps rooms stay fresher, longer, with odor eliminating technology that breaks down unwanted odors.

*Note: The length of time SuperPaint with Air Purifying Technology Interior Acrylic Latex actively reduces odors and formaldehyde depends on the concentration, the frequency of exposure and the amount of painted surface area.

A hard day’s work

On the day of the event, more than one hundred volunteers showed up to help. Juan Vasquez, founder and co-owner of Illusions Painting Inc. in Sand City, California, says he volunteered because he’s experienced kindness and support from other painters in his past.

“Everything I’ve ever learned and achieved in my business has been through the help of other PCA members and mentors I’ve met over the last few years,” Vasquez says. “How could I not give back?”

The volunteers were divided into two primary groups; one group was responsible for painting the main lobby, while the other painted housing units, hallways, railings, and door and window frames on the upper floors.

Nick Slavik, chair of PCA’s Board of Directors and founder of Nick Slavik Painting & Restoration Co. in New Prague, Minnesota, says he was impressed at the work ethic demonstrated by the volunteers.

“We divided our teams across three floors of the building and did an amazing amount of work,” Slavik says. “It’s not surprising, given that all the people at the event were self-selected and the top one percent of our industry – all absolute killers. The mood was amazing.”

Vasquez agreed.

“Everyone was so committed to getting as much done as possible,” he said. “I haven’t worked so hard in a while. But everyone’s mood was great. You’re getting to work for the first time with people you’ve met at previous Expos and events, so we had fun seeing who the best painter was and joking around with one another: ‘Oh, you missed a spot!’”

Stronger together

The volunteer team’s productivity highlighted just how much can be accomplished when painters work together for a shared cause.

“Bringing an old, tired building back to life adds value to the people who come in and out of it daily,” Slavik says. He says the PCA has already started planning its next national event and promises Paint It Forward will be a staple of future PCA Expos.

Vasquez says that any painter who gets the opportunity should absolutely participate in future Paint It Forward events.

“I believe that every time we give back, it’s rewarding,” he says. “It’s amazing to be part of a group so massive and talented and do something good for others at the same time.”

Slavik believes the cooperation displayed at this year’s Paint-It-Forward is a sign of growing comradery in the painting industry. He’s excited for what the future will bring.

“Painters don’t see each other as competition anymore,” he says. “This event is a direct reflection of this new sentiment in our industry. We’ve gathered the biggest, best bunch of servant leaders in the country. I’m very proud of our people.”

This article was published in the Summer 2023 issue of PPC magazine. ©2023 Randall Reilly. Photography courtesy of the PCA. Read about other high-profile paint projects in the PPC magazine archive.