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Men's shelter gets a free paint job

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As temporary home to some of Charleston's rougher individuals, The Giltinan Center on Leon Sullivan Way has needed more than its share of maintenance since it opened its doors as the Men's Emergency Shelter in 1989.

"We've been painting on and off, over the years," said Alex Alston, director of the Roark-Sullivan Lifeway Center that oversees the shelter. "The building gets a lot of use. We're men."

But it's likely the center has never gotten a free paint job, especially one using top-of-the-line Benjamin Moore paint, thanks to a gift by the manufacturer.

Alston, Mayor Danny Jones and Bill Farmer, a sales representative from Charlottesville, Va., were on hand Tuesday morning to announce that The Giltinan Center was one of 51 shelters across the country chosen for Benjamin Moore Paints' "Color Care Across America" program.

The idea, according to a news release, is to test the "uplifting emotional impact of color" by repainting up to 10,000 square feet at each shelter.

In Charleston, painting contractor Michael Susser volunteered to do the work.

"He comes in on his own time," Farmer said. "He's getting some of the people at the shelter to help, so it's kind of on-the-job training."

Benjamin Moore is providing its best "super-premium" interior paint, called Aura, he said, which provides superior hiding power, durability and low VOCs (volatile organic compounds) while drying.

So far, Susser and crew have completed one room. Alston credited Vice President Amanda Harrison for picking out the color scheme -- bright yellow "wheat" walls with chocolate brown wainscoting below, white trim and white ceiling.

"We wanted to brighten up the main space in the house," Harrison said.

Other public rooms on the first floor, like the dining and living areas, will follow.

"This building's been painted many times over the years but this is the first time it's being painted correctly," Alston said. "It doesn't take long to see how well the job is being done."

Jones said he was able to snag the project while attending a mayors' conference last year in Baltimore.

"I'm the only member of the Conference of Mayors from West Virginia," he said. "There were a number of booths. This woman walks up to me: 'Would you like to have your homeless shelter painted?' I was waiting for the punch line -- what do we have to do. The answer is nothing.

"Aesthetics are important in your home," Jones said, "and aesthetics are important in a facility like this."

Reach Jim Balow at balow@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.


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