Joaquin Galvan decided it was time to take a break.

So, the 3-year-old sat on the shady steps of a house with a paintbrush in one hand and a Fudgesicle in the other. After all, he had been painting the same three bricks of a house for 20 minutes in the mid-morning heat and he was tired.Joaquin was joined by his father, Dave, and 15 other volunteers from Proactive Properties who took to the task of painting Delores Quezada's house, 237 N. 600 West.

The project - one of 29 involving 700 volunteers organized into painting teams - is in conjunction with the 13th annual Paint Your Heart Out, sponsored by the Salt Lake Neighborhood Housing Services. Volunteers from local businesses, civic groups and government agencies provide the labor to paint 29 homes in the northwest section of Salt Lake City.

Over the past 13 years, more than 4,000 volunteers have painted more than 250 houses for the Paint Your Heart Out event in the Salt Lake area.

Christine Appleton, team captain for Quezada's house, said it's a pleasure to give a little back to the community.

"Cleaning the neighborhood up like this improves property value and boosts the self-esteem of the residents," Appleton said. "When you have something nice, you tend to take care of it a little more."

For many of the homeowners whose houses are being painted, these volunteers seem like a gift from heaven.

"This used to be the dumpiest neighborhood in town, but now it's going to look really nice," said Quezada, who has lived in the house for 30 years. "God put them all here for a reason and may he give them their place for doing this for us."

Quezada has wanted to clean up her house for some time but never had the opportunity to do so until now. Her husband is disabled and her 93-year-old mother has lost her sight, so she said she's had more important things to worry about.

Which is one of the reasons the housing agency provides this service for neighborhood residents, said agency assistant director Bruce Newman.

"Unfortunately, some of the residents don't have the finances or are physically limited to doing the work themselves or hire a professional painting contractor," Newman said. "Owners of other houses see all these people cleaning up and painting, and that gets them out cleaning up their property. This has a definite domino effect."

Newman said the area the agency works with - 1000 North to 1000 South and 500 West to Redwood Road - has made a "huge transition" in the last five years. "People use to look at this area as `the wrong side of the tracks.' Now property values are up and people are taking pride in the area. Those old stigmas are gone," Newman said.

Besides painting houses for free, the agency also provides low-interest mortgages for first-time home buyers and supports a youth program that works with at-risk youths in the area.

But, Newman said, it is the volunteers' willingness to contribute their time and effort that makes Paint Your Heart Out such a worthwhile event.

"We are really happy to be involved with this entire program," Appleton said. "It's a special thing everyone is doing and a great way to give back to the community."