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CLINE: Volunteer group makes impact at SaltLight Center

Want to volunteer?

Those interested in volunteering daily or for a service project at SaltLight, can contact Carol Karpf by phone at 770-885-2947 or via email at slc@familypromisegwinnett.org.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- The SaltLight Center is an emergency shelter for homeless women and children run by the organization Family Promise. As much as the center helps others, it's an entity that also needs help.

Help comes in various forms, from volunteers who staff the Lawrenceville center daily to those who make donations of money or goods. Carol Karpf, the center's director, knows that time is the most precious commodity of all, which is why she is thankful when local businesses or civic groups pitch in.

The most recent, and possibly most impactful, service project at the center was done by a group of local BB&T employees. About 32 people from the bank participated in a project to remodel the SaltLight Center's "strength" room. The room, which serves as both a kitchen and family room, takes its name from the fact that it is the heart, or strength, of the center.

"We eat there, play games there," Karpf said. "Our volunteers stay overnight there."

What Karpf wanted for this important room was a theme she wants for the entire shelter -- comfort and a feeling of home. That's where the Duluth team from BB&T came in.

The group helped redo the area, making it not only more roomy and functional, but more welcoming as well.

"From the beginning I wanted to make this shelter a very homey place," Karpf said of the center, which opened its doors last year in November and has beds for up to 11 people. "When someone is in this crisis stage ... one of the things they think they are going to come into is a place that is cold and unwelcoming.

"(The volunteers from BB&T) really opened up that room where we can all fit in, and they even made it more welcoming. And it's not just our guests that it has helped, it's provided our volunteers with a nice place as well."

The work is part of the LightHouse Project, which has seen BB&T employees work in communities across the country, logging more than 150,000 volunteer hours since its inception three years ago. Nisha Musani, team captain for the project and a certified relationship banker for BB&T, said the group did everything from sanding and painting and installing shelves, counters and cabinets to donating a new couch as well as numerous board games for children to use during their stays.

The group made three work-intensive visits that transformed the room. Like most service projects, the effort made an impact on the volunteers as well as the center.

"I thoroughly enjoyed working on our project with the SaltLight Center and felt it was very meaningful," said Ryan Carter, a sales finance sales manager for BB&T. "I am proud of being a part of an organization that encourages and promotes us to go out and get involved in our communities to make a positive difference and impact in the lives of others."

Email Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Wednesdays.