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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Amazing: Steelers Football Player Renovates Homeless Shelter That Helped Him During Childhood

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Najee Harris, a rookie running back with the Pittsburgh Steelers, remembers where he came from and pays his success forward whenever he can.

Growing up with his mom and four siblings in the Bay Area of California, he spent a lot of time in homeless shelters. The family moved from place to place, but one spot that he especially remembers is the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program, and every time he’s in the area, he makes sure to pay his respects.

Earlier this year, that looked like taking some of the kids at the shelter to go see MLB’s San Francisco Giants. He makes a point to treat them with kindness and take their mind off their troubles.

“I tell them the basic stuff, it’s not like I give some grand speech or something but you know,” the first-round draft pick out of Alabama told Fox News. “I tell them you can always change around the situation and sometimes I’m not even speaking to them about the situations they’re in because they all know where they’re at.

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“I just try to take their minds off other things like I said, I took them to the Giants game. I might throw them a little party or something like that.

“It was good to go back. Obviously, some of the people there are still working. I went back with my mom too and my family. It was good to renovate some of the things that needed updating.”

This month, that looked like helping out with a massive overhaul of the shelter, the result of Harris and his family teaming up with Lowe’s 100 Home Towns project and the Hands On Bay Area group.

On Oct. 5, over 100 volunteers showed up to help renovate buildings, play areas and gardens and breathe new life into the property.

“Today’s the big day!” GRIP posted on Facebook. “Thanks to Najee Harris and Lowe’s Home Improvement, we are beginning a massive renovation of the shelter and soup kitchen. YOU can pitch in and help too! Just click the button and donate whatever amount seems right.”

While some of his family members were on site, Harris attended part of the time remotely to speak to those who were helping out, a blog post by GRIP said.

According to a webpage by Lowe’s, the shelter “serves 15,000 homeless, hungry, and low-income individuals annually.”

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The work is ongoing, and the need is great. GRIP is still seeking volunteers to help rejuvenate the spaces that have seen thousands of people over the years.

“The transformation of our shelter continues, thanks to Najee Harris and Lowe’s Home Improvement!” the group posted on Wednesday. “Here are some before and after photos showing the work. Be sure to come volunteer in person and see the renovation!”

While Harris wasn’t there in person, it’s clear he’s there in spirit and will continue helping out when he can.

“I planned my draft there, I came back again after the draft to see some of the stuff they need done,” he said. “I came back again to take some of the kids to a Giants game.

“I came back for the Lowe’s thing to renovate some of the stuff too. I came back a good amount. Every time I’m home, I always go there.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking