A church congregation purchased a 210-room, two-story hotel that was headed into foreclosure. Most of the property was in reasonably good condition.
Mission: Provide safe, clean “transitional-to-permanent” rooms for local homeless persons. The small restaurant on the property would be converted into main kitchen, and central dining area. The food court would be removed.
Immediate goal: Clean, repair and renovate the property to meet local codes, and to pass regular health and safety inspections.
Volunteers manned the entire project. Five groups of construction people worked on repairing and renovating the property to qualify for multi-family, private, non-profit housing.
Group 1. A retired architect volunteered his firm’s design/build capabilities. He did the renderings, and put the plan on paper. Two student interns handled the blueprinting, CAD, schematics, etc.
Group 2. An area construction project management company oversaw the project.
Group 3. Two church members served as co-general contractors. They handled the actual remodeling of the two buildings, including repairs and replacements, and the reconfiguration of the hotel rooms into efficiency apartments, minus kitchens.
Group 4. Local certified trades persons did much of the code-compliant work. They included: environmental remediation/mitigation specialists, carpenters and framers, drywallers, plumbers, electricians, heating/air conditioning specialists, insulation specialists, mechanical systems specialists, roofers, pool specialists, etc.
Group 5. Certified craftspersons handled interior and exterior surface repairs, prepping, and finishing. They included: painters and decorators, finishers, glazers; tile and carpet installers, landscapers and nursery experts, pavers, etc.
A church member’s son – one of the general contractors for the project – brought me on board. While in college, he had worked summers at the hotel. Bringing a new life – and fresh purpose – to the hotel was a labor of love for him. His “in-kind” donation to the community that had nurtured him from childhood into adulthood.
I had five bosses, simultaneously. And all of them worked as volunteers.
Employer 1. Church consistory, representing the congregation.
My job: Match church’s painting and decorating wishes to the property’s project needs. Help select a color scheme that was “restful”. . .”harmonious”. . .”cheerful”. . .”appealing to the average person.”
Employer 2. Architect.
My job: Read the blueprints. Using renderings for each area, match the color chips for paints, stains and finishes for all surfaces. Make color-coded order lists of products and materials. Estimate the quantities for each, adding 20 percent allowance for most items, as much as 50 percent for others. Help the interns develop painting and decorating spec sheets.
Employer 3. Construction project management company superintendent.
My job: Help select project painters. Help the lead painter to (a) comparison cost-out and order all paint, materials and supplies, and tools not standardly a part of commercial painter’s tool kit; (b) set up written work assignments for each painting and finishing crew; (c) establish flexible duty schedule; and, (d) help identify and set up “in-kind” donations of paint-related products, materials, supplies, tools, and equipment.
Employer 4. Co-General contractors.
My job: Help “generals” put together painting and decorating prospectus. Help “generals” determine the needed painter and allied trades’ skill sets.
Employer 5. Hotel management.
My job: Help identify team members interested in future employment with the non-profit housing limited liability corporation. My assigned departmental list included: facilities/maintenance, groundskeeping, housekeeping, and outdoor activity areas.
None of my “jobs” required me to do any actual ordering and purchasing; and/or prepping, priming, painting, and finishing of any surface. The “employers” used local people to fill the spots in Groups 4 and 5 above.
At least one-third of the volunteer workers in Group 4 had been homeless. Nearly one-half in Group 5 were homeless.
One feature of the working arrangements for Groups 4 and 5 workers that had been homeless: They were given first-choice, priority residency in the complex once it was opened for occupancy.
On December 20, 2014, the complex will celebrate its one year anniversary. Everyone that worked on the project, located in the southeastern part of the United States, gained many things from the experience.
The greatest reward for the project’s volunteer leaders and craftspersons: Seeing over 52 homeless workers walk in those front doors, and watch them being escorted – individually – to their new homes.
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Read about “Symphony Sam” in the true-story, co-written blog to be posted on December 22-23, 2014. An excerpt:
“My mother told me recently about ‘Symphony Sam.’ That’s the name she gave the homeless man that played virtuoso-quality music on his violin, in Chicago’s Pedway. And, handed out free copies of the official Vietnam Veterans of America newspaper. . .”
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Have a friends-family-fun-filled holiday season.
Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”