Pittsburgh Steelers’ Najee Smith Restores Homeless Shelter
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris and his family are assisting in renovating a hometown homeless shelter. Harris felt he needed to address the carpet, per ESPN. Harris describes the carpet to once be blue-green. However, the short looped industrial weave that covered the floor at Greater Richmond Interfaith Program had faded away due to shoe prints of more than 20 years old, per sources.
Unfortunately, those footprints hit close to home for Harris as he remembers his mom and his four siblings walking over that carpet when they arrived at the Richmond shelter more than a decade ago. His family faced many evictions during his childhood. His family resorted to living out of a van in Golden Gate Park growing up.
He went back to the shelter for a visit between helping Alabama University win a national championship in January and becoming the number 24 overall pick in the NFL draft. Harris recognized the carpet and made a mental note to change when an opportunity presented itself. A few months later, Harris has partnered with Lowe’s and they are willing to facilitate and help replace the carpet. They are installing a dark hardwood tile throughout the 12,000 square foot, two-story building, per ESPN.
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Harris recently watched through a video from the Steelers’ facility, of nearly 100 volunteers that included his family. They all were starting to fulfill the wish Harris and his mother had living in that same homeless shelter for so long. The latest additions included new appliances, a computer, a grill, a rock wall, a playground, and landscaping.
“We have people that donate money, but having Najee is different,” said Siu Laulea, who was the case manager for Harris’ family during its stay at GRIP. “He wanted to upgrade the place. … [The residents] feel like it’s more like home. It’s not like a facility, because of the color of the floor we have. And with a different-color paint, it’s just a warm feeling. The vibe we do get from the residents, it’s a different vibe.
“It’s more like a happy vibe,” Laulea continued.
Pittsburgh Steelers Najee Harris: ‘Bigger Picture’
It is no secret that Pittsburgh Steelers running back Harris was once afraid to speak about his childhood experiences; however, Harris is now using his platform to make an impact in as many ways as possible.
“I found out that I could help people, my story could help people — or it will make them feel like they’re not alone in a way,” Harris said. “.. I didn’t understand my story, I guess, like that. They call it a testimony. I didn’t understand how it would help other people. I didn’t get the bigger picture at that time.”
It seems as Harris ages, he continues to gain wisdom and things begin to make more sense to him. As stated prior, he feared telling his story in fact, he was embarrassed by it. Nowadays he looks forward to it and understands the power it can have on someone to hear hope. He believes that if we can help out one another, then people won’t have to necessarily struggle like he did growing up.
“If all of us help each other out somehow, then we all can just try to make a change into something,” Harris said. “It took me all these years to really figure that out, so I wanted to help somebody else because people think that success or whatever you want, prosperity, anything, just happens like that.
“It’s not really that simple. You’ve got to look at the bigger picture,” Harris continued.