About 60 volunteers from firefighters to retired professional athletes picked up a paintbrush and helped rehabilitate a winter emergency shelter for the homeless in the Courthouse area Tuesday.
“When our clients come back they will feel like they’re being treated with dignity and respect,” said Kathleen Sibert, executive director of Arlington Street People's Assistance Network, which runs the shelter. “Everything will be so much nicer.”
The shelter at 2049 N. 15th St. near the Arlington County courthouse opens on Nov. 1 through April 1 and is can house about 80 people.
The volunteers came out as part of the National Day of Service, which encourages Americans to serve in their communities to remember 9/11. Though the shelter does have volunteers come to help with projects from time to time, yesterday’s event was the largest effort to shape up the center from top to bottom in years, Sibert said
“We are honored to have terrific community involvement,” Sibert said. “It just lifts everything up.”
Volunteers from the Arlington Professional Firefighters and Paramedics organization, at least two of whom responded to the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, were on hand.
“It’s a different kind of reminder for why we do what we do,” firefighter Justin Tirelli said. “It’s been 11 years. We aren’t looking for recognition of what we did on 9/11 we just want to be involved in the community.”
“We see people at their worst when we go on calls, so it’s nice to help people when we aren’t in an emergency situation,” added another firefighter, Matt Daly.
While firefights took one room, Washington Capitals alumnus Rod Langway, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002, could be seen hammering away at an Ikea bookshelf.
Langway heard about the event through the Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation, an umbrella organization for professional teams in the area which supports community service.
“This is great. Great people, great hockey fans,” Langway said. “There are lots of kids just hanging out during the summer, I’m sure these organizations would love for them to come and help. There are some good kids out there.”
Washington Bullets alumnus Bob Dandridge also helped paint a first-floor room.
“There are so many people who have no place to live,” Dandridge said. “It’s great that they found this place in Arlington to help people out. We’ve been painting since this morning. There’s nothing like a fresh coat of paint to warm up a room.”
HOW TO HELP
- The group Rebuilding Together, which serves low-income homeowners and non-profit organizations by providing critically needed home repairs and modifications, helped organize the event. To volunteer with the Arlington-based Rebuilding Together chapter, visit their website.
- To find out about volunteering with A-SPAN, visit www.a-span.org. In addition to operating the shelter, the organization provides year round daily street outreach, drop-in services such as showers, laundry, and food, and a bagged meal program.