A massive renovation from the flooring to the walls, fence, gardens, play area, veterans’ housing, and more is underway at the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program’s homeless shelter and soup kitchen in Richmond, thanks to leadership from one-time resident and now NFL star Najee Harris, his family, the Lowe’s 100 Home Towns project, and Hands On Bay Area.
The first signs started going up around 7 a.m. on Tuesday as more than 100 volunteers began arriving from across the Bay Area, mostly from the San Bruno Lowe’s store, but also Vallejo, San Francisco, and Cotati.
Decked out in blue Lowe’s jerseys with the number 21, a rally began the day with project captain and Lowe’s store manager Brad Bemis leading the group in a call to purpose, some stretching, some primal yawps and then the kickoff of a hard day of labor at the shelter.
Teams fanned out to all directions, launching into the project with dozens of paint brushes raised, shovels and rakes in the garden, and specialized tools for the flooring in the offices. Meanwhile, a massive barbecue grill and smoker donated by Najee Harris was rolled out and the smell of marinated carne asada filled the air.
“We’re excited to give back to GRIP today,” Bemis said, thanking the staff who support more than 15,000 people in the west county region.
STEELER’S RUNNING BACK NAJEE HARRIS
After 10:30 a.m., Najee Harris joined the group remotely via a massive Zoom conference call, with workers taking a well-deserved break to chat with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ running back. His mother and grandmother were in the front row helping with the project and catching up with their family. The love between family members was apparent during some good-natured ribbing about the ocean and sea life mural going up in the children’s play area.
“So who’s painting the mural,” Harris asked. The crowd responded, “Your mom!” to which Harris replied, “Ah, hell no!” scoffing at her artistic skills. “You got to get a painter out there!” Fortunately, there were soon about 8 painters working on the 360-degree shoreline panorama pictured below.
The exterior fence is going from lime green to “Barn” red, with another dozen volunteers painstakingly painting each picket.
“We wanted to create an outdoor area, with a nice walkway and a place the residents can get outside and take a break, in a nice setting to enjoy it,” Bemis said during a Facebook live tour.
A FRESH COAT OF PAINT
The yellow walls of the shelter’s second floor showed the wear and tear of years of caring for 60-70 people. The colors needed upgrading, and the scratches, dings, and nicks needed fixing to improve the appearance. Enter the hardworking team of District Council 16 Northern California Journeyman and Apprentice Finishing Trades Institute. They spent hours cleaning, prepping and painting dozens of rooms, and thousands of square feet–all donated time and skills to help those who need it.
See the transformation in progress with these before and after shots!
LOWE’S 100 HOME TOWNS
Lowe’s looks forward to bringing together a member of the Lowe’s Home Team, Harris, to help support and revitalize the facility. From improving an outdoor playground with a mural, table and chairs, to replacing the entire carpet and vinyl flooring throughout the shelter and kitchen, this 100 Hometowns project will further GRIP’s mission to serve homeless and low-income individuals. This project is the sixth collaboration between the 2021 Lowe’s Home Team and Lowe’s 100 Hometowns. 100 Hometowns is Lowe’s initiative to celebrate its centennial year and after serving communities for 100 years, 100 projects will be completed across 36 U.S. states that rebuild areas reeling from natural disasters, repair critical housing, restore beloved community centers, revive green spaces, and much more.