By Maria Maxham
Joe Szerbinski, owner of Forest Park Stucco Inc. for over 40 years, just painted the entire exterior of the American Legion hall at 500 Circle. And he did it for free.
"Veterans in our country don't get enough thanks or respect," he said. "This is my way of giving back."
Szerbinski's way of giving back was to donate his company's resources to refresh the exterior of the American Legion hall with a fresh paint job. Forest Park Stucco Inc. worked for about 1.5 months to finish the project, which was completed on Oct. 21. He pulled people from other jobs as often as he could to finish painting the hall, despite tighter than ever schedules due to an unseasonably wet spring and summer.
"I think we had about seven dry days in May," said Szerbinski, whose company is located near the American Legion Hall. "I'd seen for a while that it needed cosmetic work, and I decided this was a way I could help the veterans."
He was inspired by his neighbor, a WWII veteran who had an impact on him. "He's pretty much the sweetest man I know," he said.
Szerbinski was born and raised in Forest Park. He moved away for a few years but lives here again, and his business has been in town for 40 years.
Mike Thompson, who runs the American Legion in Forest Park, says he's deeply grateful for Szerbinski's service.
"He deserves a huge shout-out," said Thompson. "He volunteered, unsolicited, and did this work, which was probably worth 12 to 15 thousand dollars."
Thompson added that he wants to return the hall to what it was in the old days.
"I want it to be a showplace in the community," he said. "A place where people are proud to host baby showers and birthday parties and other events."