NASCAR pit crews help renovate homeless shelter

The Charlotte Rescue Mission before the $400,000 renovation

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by MICHELLE BOUDIN / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @MichelleBoudin

WCNC.com

Posted on February 3, 2014 at 4:33 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 3 at 7:21 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Some of NASCAR's biggest musclemen are helping make sure a Charlotte homeless shelter gets a much needed makeover-- 40 years in the making.

They are used to hard work and heavy lifting, but carrying 200 pound consoles up three flights of stairs is not how Jimmie Johnson and Dale Juniors’ pit-crews usually spend their Mondays.

“Normally go in and do some light duty stuff like some yoga and some rehab, but today’s not quite like that,” T.J. Ford says laughing.

Instead they are getting in a workout helping with a long overdue makeover at Charlotte's Rescue Mission.

“Yeah, you can tell I'm out of breath right now; carrying those 200 pound consoles upstairs takes teamwork-- just like pit-stops.”

The men at the Rescue Mission have spent the last two months sleeping in the gym so the 1930s building can be completely redone.

Everything at the mission had been here since the 60s.

Reverend Tony Marciano runs the mission and says, “The building had really deteriorated over that time; the furniture itself was probably 30, 40 years old, so we really needed to renovate everything.”

They're completely re-configuring the men’s dormitory. It was military barracks style, but now they're going to have four guys sleeping in the same area. The idea is to build a bond between the men.

Marciano says there’s a good reason.

“So if one is thinking of quitting there's three other men that if he has a relationship with that will encourage him to stay within the program. For addicts, finishing something is very difficult.”

They’re hoping fresh paint, new floors and furniture will help the men realize they're worth a fresh start.

“The old system reinforced the fact that they had messed up their lives; I hate to say that. With the new furniture it says your best days truly are ahead of you,” Marciano said.

The men are supposed to be able to move from the gym to the newly redone dorms later this week. The renovations cost $400,000 and come from donations and from part of the non-profit’s operating budget.

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