On the Ground: HeroWork

You know how it starts. “We’ll just renovate the bathroom,” you say. Next thing you know the kitchen is ripped out, you’re ordering new flooring for the entire place and you have a team of landscapers descending on your yard.

That’s what happened to the Community Wing of the Esquimalt United Church, which houses Rainbow Kitchen and other organizations, and until recently was badly in need of an additional washroom.

With staff, volunteers and around 250 guests per day coming through Rainbow Kitchen in particular, the non-profit’s single washroom was overrun.

Now, after about three weeks of work, they have their new washroom. And a new kitchen. And a walk-in refrigerator. And a new vegetable garden. And a wheelchair ramp. And an office. And. And. And.

It all started when HeroWork was contacted and the scope of the project grew. HeroWork is a charity that helps other charities by offering up infrastructure renovations in a way that saves the recipient 80 per cent of the value.

To make it all happen, HeroWork calls on help from local individuals, organizations and businesses to chip in and offer what materials and/or elbow grease they can muster. They turn a standard renovation into a community event and offer up a way for everyone to take part in a positive, uplifting project.

“They’ve got increased need, decreased resources, and over time these buildings get depreciated because nobody can afford to fix them up,” said Paul Latour, HeroWork Founder and Executive Director. “It’s important to lift up these organizations and give them the infrastructure so that they can deliver their mandates more efficiently and for longer term.”

For the Rainbow Kitchen project, 170 contractors, hundreds of volunteers and even members of the Canadian Armed Forces came together over the course of three weekends to tear the place apart and build it back up again.

“HeroWork has done amazing work, they’re a great organization,” said Gigi McKee, Rainbow Kitchen Director of Operations. “I can’t believe they can get all the teams together to do everything they do on time, to get us functioning.”

It’s impressive indeed, but this is what HeroWork does: large scale renovations for non-profit organizations too busy helping others to help themselves. Since 2010, HeroWork has carried out $1.8 million worth of renovations for Greater Victoria non-profit organizations, all thanks to the kindness of others.

“It’s all about the power of community,” said Latour. “Common vision, common purpose, people working shoulder to shoulder, it’s amazing what you can get done with the human spirit and the power of community.”

Find a Victoria Foundation video on HeroWork and the Rainbow Kitchen renovation here.

For more information on HeroWork visit: http://www.herowork.com/.

And to learn more about Rainbow Kitchen visit: http://www.rainbowkitchen.ca/.