Pittsburgh Steelers’ Najee Smith Restores Homeless Shelter
Pittsburgh Steelers’ Najee Harris and his family are 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.
Sadly, those footprints hold a personal connection for Harris as he recalls his mother and four siblings treading on that carpet when they arrived at the Richmond shelter over ten years ago. His family endured multiple evictions during his upbringing and even lived out of a van in Golden Gate Park.
After aiding Alabama University in securing a national championship in January, he revisited the shelter before being selected as the 24th 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 receive monetary donations, but having Najee is unique,” said Siu Laulea, who served as the case manager for Harris’ family during their time at GRIP. “He wanted to enhance the place… The residents now feel more at home. It’s not just a facility because of the new floor color and paint. There’s a warm feeling, and the residents have a different, joyful vibe.”
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 refer to it as a testimony. I didn’t grasp its impact on others. I didn’t see the broader perspective back then.
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 we all support one another, we can collectively strive for positive change,” Harris expressed. “It took me a long time to realize this, so I wanted to assist someone else. People often believe that success or prosperity comes effortlessly, but it’s not that straightforward. We need to consider the broader perspective.”