NACOGDOCHES, Texas - To a passerby, it might look like a typical, white brick storage building - nothing more than a place to house excess furniture and goods. But to Stephen F. Austin State University interior design students and staff members from Love In the Name of Christ, a non-profit Christian organization, the building is a blank canvas and a fresh start.
SFA interior design students have partnered with representatives from Love INC to renovate a storage building, located on Ruby Street in Nacogdoches, into a bathing and laundry facility for the Nacogdoches homeless community.
"Love INC is part of a nationwide faith-based organization that gives back to the community and those less fortunate," said Mark Bridges, vice chairman of Love INC and a member of the buildings and grounds committee responsible for the project.
Love INC received an anonymous donation to buy the building, and Bridges said he approached Sally Ann Swearingen, associate professor in SFA's School of Human Sciences, for help with the renovation.
"I'm always wanting to give back to the community, so I thought I should get all the interior design students - from freshmen to seniors - to work on this project," Swearingen said.
Approximately 65 interior design students are involved in the renovation, which surpassed Bridges' expectations.
"It's beyond what I anticipated. The response from SFA is amazing," Bridges said. "I pray it will be a wonderful experience and that we can teach the students what it's like to give back to the community and to use their gifts for people when they may never see any payment for it."
Last week, SFA students began the project by visiting the storage building to measure the facility and meet with Love INC's board of directors and employees. During the meeting, students discussed Love INC's needs and vision for the structure. The renovations will convert the storage unit into a facility with bathing areas, a laundry area and a one-room apartment for a person or family to shelter for a night or two.
"It feels good to give back and work on a project that will actually be built," said Haley Gibbert, a senior interior design major from Texarkana, Texas. "This is going to help people, and it's not just for a grade."
Students had one day to create a name and logo and to design interior and exterior perspectives and a handicapped accessible floor plan of the storage building to present to Love INC. After Love INC representatives select a design, SFA interior design seniors will perfect and present it to the city.
"This is an opportunity for Love INC to minister and share the gospel to people who have never heard it or have never seen it in person," said Rebecca Bumpurs, an SFA interior design sophomore from Port Lavaca, Texas. "The gospel isn't just words, it's actions. You can show the gospel through your actions and love for somebody else. This is what they are doing for the community."
The timeline for this project is indefinite, but Bridges said he hopes Love INC will be able to build the facility as quickly as possible.