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Foster youth receive new kitchen thanks to Lowes
Lowes pic1
Aspiranet Residential Operations Director Terry McAlister (third from right) presented Lowes employees with certificates of recognition Friday morning for their hard work in remodeling the Smith House kitchen. - photo by ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal

Fourteen years ago, Joseph Koncel was a young man staying in Aspiranet’s short-term residential treatment program in the Smith House, unsure about his future. Today, the same kitchen Koncel once prepared meals in is completely remodeled, thanks to his own hard work and a donation from Lowe’s.

Lowe’s Heroes program allows the store to adopt a project of their choice in order to better the community, and a recent remodel of the kitchen at Aspiranet’s Excell Center is just one of 12 projects Turlock’s Lowe’s has undertaken this year. On Friday morning, Aspiranet Community Engagement Specialist Ellyn Brannon and Residential Operations Director Terry McAlister were on hand at the home improvement store to thank the employees who volunteered their time to better the lives of youth in crisis.

“The boys do all the chores in the house themselves, and now they have new countertops that aren’t falling apart and peeling off like they were before,” said Richardson. “The new fixtures, the new appliances – they use those daily and they appreciate the fact that these are brand new and they’re working very hard at taking care of it.”

According to human resources manager Delia Revollero, Lowe’s employees volunteered 100 hours of their time to ensure the project was completed over the course of two days. The remodel included new appliances, a new sink, cabinet restoration plus the donation and installation of brand new countertops thanks to Andrew Morse of Surface Restoration.

Koncel is Morse’s head installer, and when he told his boss that he once stayed at the home they were now remodeling, Morse was surprised.

“I didn’t even know it, but it’s proof that it works,” said Morse. “He’s one of my best workers, and he went it through so it works really well.”

Koncel said it felt good to give back to a place that once gave so much to him.

“I learned a lot of good values from there,” he said. “It’s a great place.”

Aspiranet Residential treatment program offers critical support to youth in crisis, preparing them to be reunited with their families and represents the highest level of care that is available to children and youth in California. The Smith House was built nearly 20 years ago, said McAlister, and its kitchen was in need of refurbishment after housing teenage boys for two decades.

When the remodel was complete, the boys, who had been staying out of the house during the project, were taken aback by their new kitchen.

“They came in and were like, ‘Wow, is this the same kitchen?’” said McAlister. “It was just so different. They were flabbergasted at the transformation.”

For Lowe’s, the project was just one more reason the employees love what they do, said Revollero. The experience was even more meaningful for several employees who were also in foster care as children, she added.

“We want to do anything we can to improve our community, and go anywhere we can make a difference,” said Revollero.