When you mix paint, carpeting and elbow grease, you end up with a potion that can brighten a kid’s day.
Over the past couple of weeks, employees at the Lowe’s store in Sedalia have been volunteering their time to bring new life to the Boys & Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri’s downtown site, 314. S. Washington Ave. The club’s space is located at the top of a creaky flight of stairs in the well-worn city-owned building.
Local Lowe’s Store Manager Brad Neperud and Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Jessica Pyle both are members of the Sedalia Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce, so Neperud was aware the downtown site needed some attention. The Lowe’s Heroes Program provides $2,500 grants to stores so employees can improve their communities. Neperud said improving conditions for Boys & Girls Club’s downtown site members “has been on my heart.”
Downtown site manager Vicki Hart had told him that in her travels across the country to other club sites, she was impressed by the facilities their members were able to enjoy. That was far from the case with the downtown Sedalia site.
“My first interaction here was, ‘Wow, this really needs some work,’” Neperud said. “To see Vicki and what she does for the kids and how she engages with parents when they come up … hit home.”
So Neperud, his assistant manager Paul Pugh and other local Lowe’s associates committed to using $2,000 from the store’s grant and a bunch of volunteer hours to make a difference for local kids. There was a lot to do – the kitchen had no running water nor any cabinets, the walls were painted orange and green and the carpeted areas were well-worn.
Emily Jarrett, communications director for Boys & Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri, said the work started in the final couple of days of the club’s summer program, so most club members had no idea the renovations were taking place.
“I like this project a lot,” she said. “Before, this space was just old. Now that we have teens and tweens here year-round, we wanted to make a space that is theirs, that is a fun and cool place to go after school.”
As Neperud and his crew starting working, they realized their $2,000 budget was not going to allow them to complete the job to their satisfaction.
“When you’re in the middle of it, you tell yourself, ‘We just can’t do it halfway.’ If you’re going to do it, do it right,” Neperud said.
Valspar Paints stepped up and donated all of the paint for the project. Walmart donated some bean bag chairs, and a flooring contractor who works with Lowe’s donated his time to install the carpeting. Neperud estimated the supplies cost about $3,500, with about $5,000 worth of labor volunteered, as well.
One of those volunteers, Billi Bracken, has an 11-year-old daughter, Bailey, who is a member of the downtown site. Bracken put in about 13 hours on the project – “Not as much as Brad and Paul, that’s for sure,” she said. She also is certain her daughter will be impressed with the upgrades.
“I think she is going to be blown away,” Bracken said. “She knows we are working on this but she doesn’t know the scope of it. … I think it looks great. The before and after is just amazing.”
Hart was blown away by Lowe’s generosity and the dedication of Neperud and the volunteers. On the first Friday of the project, Neperud said he was going to get in a little work during his lunch hour; he was at the site until 5 p.m.
“Things we didn’t ask for, they went that extra mile,” Hart said. “Most of (the volunteers) were young and some probably thought they had better things to do but you could tell after they came in … they were very proud of their accomplishments.”
Neperud embraced the opportunity to make Sedalia a better place.
“Being part of the community is something that is important to Lowe’s as well as our store,” he said. “We know that when you can impact one person or a group of people in a positive way, that can trickle down and pay dividends long-term. It’s not about us making money, it’s about the community getting better and stronger.
“If there is an area where we can brighten a day, that is what we are going to do.”
Bob Satnan is the communications director for Sedalia School District 200.