It’s Sunday and a transformation is taking place at the Mustard Seed in Victoria.
Not the kind of spiritual renewal that happens most Sundays in its chapel on Queens Avenue, but an overhaul of the physical kind.
A small army of volunteers wield rollers and brushes, layering on fresh coats of paint, while others do the grunt work of ripping off drywall or old flooring to make way for new materials.
The work will upgrade the entire main floor of the downtown service provider, which is home to the city’s primary food bank.
It is the culmination of almost two years of research, planning and consultations, overseen by HeroWork’s Paul Latour.
“This is not just an extreme makeover, it’s an event,” he said, noting a documentary film crew will capture the project from start to finish.
As part of the preparation for the project, Latour, who works part time as a server at Oak Bay Marina Restaurant, volunteered at Mustard Seed.
“I spent six weeks doing every job in the place and interviewed staff to get a better sense of what was needed.” After that process, he says, “I felt the reno, while huge, was doable. It’s all powered by story.”
By that he means getting potential partners to buy into the power of potential for such a project.
Beside the major renovations at the building, the plans also include a massive food drive around the region (see Convoy of Awesome, Page A11), to help the struggling food bank replenish its dwindling stocks.
While that community lightning rod will be a mega-event unto itself, it is the renovation that will provide lasting impact for the organization.
“This is probably a four- or five-week reno that we’re going to do in eight days,” said project manager Kent McFadyen, who organized the trades volunteers for this major undertaking.
More than 70 local firms have donated everything from materials, expertise and skilled labour to catered meals for the volunteer crews on the project. McFadyen estimates the total value of the renovation to be roughly around $500,000.
“There’s been some companies we’ve had to go back to multiple times and they just say, ‘tell us what you need,’” he said.
Jackie Cox-Ziegler, director of administration for the Mustard Seed in Victoria, is familiar with every aspect of the Christian service provider’s operation, from the food bank and clothing supply services, to counselling and worship activities.
“The renovation will help the staff do their jobs better,” she said, “but I also think it will give our community members knowledge that people in the greater community care for them.”
Coming into a newer, more comfortable facility gives everyone a sense of renewed energy, she says, adding, “Their attitudes change.” Cox-Ziegler knows from what she speaks, having worked at Our Place through the period when its new facility was built.
HeroWorks’ volunteer labour crew draws heavily from the faith and education communities, but also includes people who have worked with Latour on past reno projects and even some Mustard Seed regulars. The project’s reach even extends to CFB Esquimalt – HMCS Winnipeg crew members have signed up to repaint the exterior of the building.
Exact details of the makeover are being kept hush-hush since the plan, mimicking the drama of TV shows featuring similar renovation projects, is to reveal the finished work to employees and the client community to great fanfare this Sunday (June 2) at 4 p.m. The public is invited to attend and offer support.
While donations have provided the vast majority of the materials and labour needed to complete the project, some unforeseen expenses have left HeroWork about $2,300 short. To help with a cash donation or to find out more about the project, visit herowork.com.
• • •
Convoy of Awesome to help stock shelves
As some of the final improvements are being completed to the Mustard Seed building on Queens Avenue, a community convoy of vehicles loaded with food items will be snaking its way through the Capital Region from the University of Victoria toward CFB Esquimalt.
The public is invited to join the Convoy of Awesome by loading their vehicle with food items and meeting at UVic’s parking lot 10 (off Gordon Head Road) at 10 a.m. on Saturday (June 1).
Once the convoy reaches the base, navy personnel will transfer the food from the vehicles into the Mustard Seed’s five-ton truck.
When filled, the truck will head back to its home base, where it will play a role in the “big reveal” the next day, when the renovation project is unveiled to staff and the Mustard Seed community.