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November 5, 2013

Lowe’s Heroes in action

Torner Center room getting a facelift

TERRE HAUTE — About 5,000 people each year use the Fort Harrison Room in Deming Park’s Torner Center, for purposes that range from birthday parties to wedding receptions.

This week, the room is undergoing some updating and renovating, thanks to the Lowe’s Heroes grant program.

Lowe’s in Terre Haute is donating about $1,200 in supplies, and about a dozen employees have volunteered their time to do the work.

The upgrade includes removing paneling, painting the walls and ceiling, sanding and refinishing kitchen cabinets and installing new vinyl flooring that looks like wood. Lowe’s also is donating a new refrigerator, stove, kitchen countertop, sink and faucet.

The community building dates back 30 years, and the Fort Harrison Room is rented out to the public.

When Bruce Rosselli, director of parks and recreation, wrote a proposal to Lowe’s, he hoped for a donation of materials, with parks department employees doing the renovation. “What’s really neat is the Lowe’s employees are doing the work,” Rosselli said.

That frees up park maintenance employees to work on something else.

“Bruce brought a really good proposal to us — something we wanted to get involved in,” said Aaron Hazel, the Terre Haute Lowe’s store manager.

Nationwide last year, Lowe’s Heroes participated in about 1,300 projects and donated more than $1.3 million in materials. The program encourages store employees to adopt a volunteer project with a local nonprofit organization or K–12 public school and make a difference.

Hazel noted that many of the Lowe’s volunteers have used the Deming Park community facility or have taken their children there. One employee has attended master gardeners’ classes there, while another employee takes her daughter to a cheerleading program at the site.

The room will maintain a rustic look, but the department has removed the wood stove — which could no longer be used for insurance reasons, Rosselli said. Instead, a small electric fireplace will be installed.

By 11 a.m. Monday, volunteers had already removed the wood paneling and were sanding kitchen drawers and cabinets. They wore red shirts that said, “Be a Hero.”

Jennifer Ingle, an assistant store manager, stained a sign that had “Fort Harrison Room” written on it. The sign will go above the kitchen area.

Whitney Reynolds, a Lowe’s department manager over appliances, cleaned off some drawers that had been sanded and would later be stained.

She volunteered because “I live about two blocks over and I bring my son here [to the park] all the time. I figured I might as well help clean it up,” Reynolds said.

Another volunteer, Nathan Mimms, sanded cabinets. He volunteered “because it helps out the community,” he said.

Rosselli described the effort as a great partnership. “It’s been a neat project,” he said. “You never know what you can get” until you ask.

The community always seems to “respond wholeheartedly” when the parks department has a need, Rosselli said.

For more information about Lowe’s programs that benefit the community, visit responsibility.lowes.com/community.

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