Alexandria shelter gets facelift by volunteers

Close to 100 people showed up despite the heat Tuesday to renovate the Alexandria community shelter, a major facelift that took just 24 hours.

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A volunteer helps paint the inside walls at the shelter.

“It really demonstrates the community is behind their effort to change their lives and move forward,” said Michelle Jannazo of New Hope Housing.

Several local businesses donated money or supplies such as flooring, lighting or blinds worth $6,000 total, said Allison Silberberg of the Economic Opportunities Commission, which organized the project.

Many of the volunteers are Home Depot employees who donated their free time to the project. A few of the residents of the 65-bed shelter helped out as well.

“They fed me, put a roof over my head and helped me get a job,” said Tim Draper. He says he once worked in construction, but when the housing market collapsed, he lost everything. After living on the street for nearly two weeks, he found a bed here.

Eight months later, he's glad he can contribute his construction expertise to the effort.

“It feels good because as much as they've done for me, I'm giving back now and I'm helping future residents have a better place to live,” he said.

Organizers say they originally planned to complete it in April but were concerned about cold, inclement weather. Now they had to work on one of the hottest days of the year, but volunteer Fred Ross says that's not slowing them down.

“Sometimes we don't have the liberty of making that choice. We go with what mother nature gives us and make the most of it,” said Ross.

The group plans to hold volunteer projects like this one annually.

“Despite the heat, we know we're doing this for a good cause and that somebody is gonna benefit from it. And we get a real good feeling from it,” Ross said.

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