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In Mustard Seed makeover, it all comes down to function

Vibrant artwork in the Mustard Seed’s newly renovated youth and volunteer room do more than feed the soul — they will also help fill the bellies of those who come to help or heal.
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Paul Latour demonstrates how murals fold down to become tables in the Mustard Seed's volunteer room. The results of the one-week renovation will be revealed Sunday, June 2.

Vibrant artwork in the Mustard Seed’s newly renovated youth and volunteer room do more than feed the soul — they will also help fill the bellies of those who come to help or heal.

That’s because the paintings, unclipped and unfolded from the wall, double as tables where volunteers and youth using the food bank’s services can eat.

The dual-purpose paintings are just one example of how the one-week makeover by Hero Work — carried out by roughly 300 volunteers and more than 80 companies — is as much about function as it is form.

When the staff and volunteers of the Mustard Seed see their newly renovated space for the first time Sunday, they will see more than esthetic changes.

They’ll also see changes that aim to make it easier and faster for clients to access services, food and clothing.

In a tour of the facility on the eve of the big reveal, Paul Latour, the man behind Hero Work, demonstrated how work flow, security, storage, sustainability, sanitation and safety have all been improved.

Much of the electrical system, for instance, wasn’t up to safety codes and couldn’t accommodate much-needed additional lighting or appliances.

A new, larger fridge in the kitchen will hold more food for clients, while the five-year-old fridge it replaced is now in the volunteer and youth room.

The interview area has been made more accessible and private, while the window where singles and families receive hampers is about double the size — which should reduce lineups and improve efficiency, Latour said.

In the volunteer and youth room — the site of those custom-made tables, whose undersides were painted by mixed-media artist Kristin Grant — blinds were installed on a large skylight to give shade for youth using the room on hot summer days.

Tables and chairs that once had to be piled up and pushed to the side of the chapel can now be easily stored in closets, allowing more people to enjoy the sanctuary space. The sound booth has been enclosed for security.

Bathroom floors and walls have been tiled for easier cleaning. The undermount sinks and single faucets will also allow for more sanitary conditions.

As dozens of volunteers carried out hundreds of last-minute jobs on Saturday — more flooring to be laid, walls to be painted, pictures to be hung, baseboards to be added and toilets to be installed — Latour said he was confident all of the work would be completed.

Some volunteers, including John Demedeiros and John Jr. of NuEdge Painting, Dave Spears of Harbour Side Plumbing, floor layer Jeet Lagah and their crews, expected they might be working overnight Saturday.

“I am totally relaxed,” Latour said. “It’s going to happen.”

Believing that, he said, is his job.

charnett@timescolonist.com