Good job!

sanctuarymural1“He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.”
— Bob Russell, Bobby Scott

The quote above is from a song made popular in the 1960s, but the origin of the powerful phrase can be traced back through time. A soldier carrying a Vietnamese on his back during the Vietnam war supposedly said it and a photo was clicked of the event. And Father Flanagan used the phrase, accompanied with a line drawing depicting a little boy carrying his brother. The original drawing by Van B. Hooper was done in gold and black ink and the caption read: “He ain’t heavy, Mister — he’s m’ brother.” Father Flanagan got permission to use it for his Boy’s Town and changed the line to: “He ain’t heavy, Father — he’s m’ brother.”

All that said, I think it’s time to bring that sentiment back — and bring it on home.

The Interfaith Sanctuary, possibly the only home for the homeless in the country supported by so many different faiths and spiritual groups — about 25 — is our brother who needs a little help. The roof leaks, there’s no insulation; there’s a garden to tend — and between 1,000 to 2,000 homeless men, women, children and families per year who need that roof over their heads.

On April 25, 75 Leadership Boise and Leadership Boise Academy (high-school age) members rolled up their sleeves and banked a little sweat equity — they painted walls, put in doors, pulled up old (gross!) carpe, rolled out linoleum, built shelves, did a little landscaping and more. But there’s still plenty to do.

And about that roof… “”We lose a few beds whenever it rains,” Interfaith Sanctuary board member Ed Keener said. It leaks everywhere “we have to put buckets out and the black and brown stuff runs down the walls. It’s ugly, it’s bad.”

The total cost of the roof is around $70,000 and that includes the much-needed insulation, Keener said. In the winter, the 10,000-square-foot Sanctuary’s heating bills go, well, through the roof and ditto for AC bills in the summer. And, even with the air conditioning running, because there’s no insulation, “it gets awfully hot,” Keener said.

So far, the Sanctuary itself has raised about two-thirds of the roof’s cost through fundraising, grants and generous donors. And Leadership Boise, one of the oldest Chamber-sponsored leadership programs in the U.S., has pitched in to the tune of about $8,000 — and don’t forget all that sweat equity.

But that still leaves about $17,000 more to go and Leadership Boise is committed to the cause. So, through the month of May, the group hopes to get that roof paid for, “One shingle at a time,” said Kelly Barbour, incoming vice-president for Leadership Boise class of 2008-2010.

Yep, you can buy a square foot of the new roof for a measly $3. C’mon — that’s parking meter money — something we can all afford. Let’s make this good news story together.

Go to the Sanctuary Interfaith Web site and get your shingle: Make sure to put “Roof Project” in the “designation” area. To see what Leadership Boise did through their “sweat equity” project at Interfaith Sanctuary, watch this video on Youtube at:

Editor’s note: This column also appears in the current edition of the Idaho Business Review.


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