Life-changing HeroWork renovation transforms former youth jail


It’s been weeks of work — from sawing and cutting in drywall to painting and putting on the finishing touches.

“Every time I come here I’m inspired and I’m a little choked up,” says HeroWork executive director Tracie Clayton.

“It’s emotional — it’s emotional to see people making that commitment and being part of this whole thing.”

More than 500 HeroWork volunteers have spent the last three weekends transforming the former youth jail in View Royal into Our Place’s new therapeutic recovery community for homeless or at-risk men.

“It really is an honor to work on this project,” says first-time volunteer Christine Kraik. “We really feel like we’re changing lives here.”

“I love doing this work,” adds volunteer site superintendent Vance Smith. “When I come to site I’m with people that are like-minded. I’m with people that have given their weekend to do good.”

The radical renovation — valued at more than $600,000 — means the cell block now feels like a home.

“It takes community to build community,” says Our Place’s Bob Frank. “It’s just amazing how people can get together and be led by HeroWork and renovate the institution.”

More than 120 businesses have also pitched in, helping to build a brighter future for the 50 men that will soon find comfort here.

“It feels kind of sad I won’t get to see that,” says an emotional Clayton. “I won’t get to see what it means to them and how it feels for them that a whole community’s come together to do this for them.”

Now that the project’s wrapping up, even construction veterans can’t help but be overwhelmed by what they’ve accomplished.

“It’s emotional when it’s done,” says Smith, choking up. “There’s so much need in our ability and being able to give back and contribute to that means everything.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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