HeroWork convoy kicks off renovation to house youth

At-risk youth housing set to launch next month

That horn-honking caravan you heard heading out of Oak Bay Marina Friday afternoon was a convoy of HeroWork Program Society volunteers and contractors.

They were headed for Forrest House, on Davie Street just outside the Oak Bay border, which was gifted by an anonymous donor to the Threshold Housing Society, which offers transitional housing for people between 16 and 21 years of age who are at risk of being homeless.

“This is more than a building,” said Paul Latour, founder of HeroWork Program Society, the organization in charge of the renovation.

“HeroWork started because I had a friend in need. Because I thought I could get 20 friends and have a pizza party. I did a $25,000 renovation in a single day with $380 and the magic has continued ever since,” he said.

Friday’s opening ceremony started with the horn-blowing convoy of heroes. Close to 70 decorated vehicles full of sponsors, contractors and volunteers drove from the Oak Bay Marina to arrive on the site in time for a 5 p.m. opening ceremony promptly followed by demolition of the inside of the building.

“After this renovation, we will have completed over $1 million in community renovations. That is amazing,”  Latour said, addressing the convoy of people in their vehicles and ready to roll. “So all the way along, I want you to honk your horn because HeroWork is not only about the renovation, it’s about living your life courageously; it’s about having compassion and caring in everything you do; it’s about coming together in cooperation, in common vision, so that we together can make a difference. Who here wants to make a difference? Honk your horn.”

More than 80 companies donated time and resources for the renovation that continues for three successive weekends, with the grand reveal on Oct. 5.

“Our goal is to give at-risk youth a very positive rental experience as a stepping stone into adult independence,” said Mark Muldoon, executive director of Threshold Housing Society.

Once Threshold Housing Society decides a resident has reached a certain level of maturity and integrity, it will be time for him or her to move on. The building will be able to house at most, six youth. One of the units will be used for life skill building such as cooking and financial literacy.