By Kathy Chouteau
More than 100 volunteers showed up at the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program’s (GRIP) homeless shelter and soup kitchen Tuesday, Oct. 5 to kick off what the organization called a “massive renovation” to its facilities and grounds. Among the swarm of volunteers leading the way were the Lowe’s 100 Home Towns project team, Hands On Bay Area, former GRIP resident and current Pittsburgh Steelers’ running back Najee Harris (via Zoom) and his family, per the organization in a blog post.
GRIP said Tuesday’s renovation encompassed updates to the flooring, walls, fencing, gardens, play area, veterans’ housing and other areas. As part of these improvements, the outdoor playground received an ocean-themed mural, table and chairs; the garden received planter boxes, mulch, a retaining wall and a walkway with pavers; the carpet and vinyl flooring were replaced throughout the shelter and kitchen and interior walls were painted by District Council 16 Northern California Journeyman and Apprentice Finishing Trades Institute and Lowe’s volunteers.
Rising bright and early, the volunteers, many of whom were from the Lowe’s store in San Bruno, started their day of service at the shelter with a rally that included a call to purpose, stretching and energetic yelps led by Store Manager Brad Bemis, before diving into their duties, said GRIP reps.
“We’re excited to give back to GRIP today,” said Bemis, who according to GRIP, thanked its staff for their work helping more than 15,000 people in the West County area.
Adorned in blue Lowe’s jerseys, the volunteer 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,” said GRIP reps.
Later that morning, Harris appeared before the group via a Zoom call, while workers took a breather to enjoy some remote time with the NFL star. With his mother and grandmother on hand to help with the onsite effort, Harris joked about his mother’s artistic abilities when he found out she was helping with the ocean and sea life mural: “You got to get a painter out there,” he said, according to GRIP. Luckily, eight painters were on hand that day to do the honors.
Aside from checking in via Zoom, the NFL running back star also donated a large barbecue grill and smoker to the cause, which GRIP said was used to cook up some carne asada. Word on the street from Lowe’s is that Harris will be visiting the shelter in a few weeks as part of his participation in the Lowe’s 100 Home Towns project.