How HeroWorks' Extreme Makeovers Help Charities Thrive

HeroWork founder Paul Latour likens his charity’s undertakings to modern-day barn raisings. The non-profit helps other charities by renewing and refreshing their aging buildings and infrastructure through weekend-spanning events called Radical Renovations. These are rousing occasions with live music and catered meals, each seeing the participation of over a hundred local businesses and huge teams of volunteers.

“We even have the whole ‘Move that truck!’ reveal,” Latour says.

Latour designs the events around four key factors: How cool can it be? How big of a change can it make? How can it maximize the sense of community? And how cohesive can the whole event be with respect to organization and branding? A self-described storyteller, Latour has each renovation filmed for the inspiring HeroWork video series.

“We put these things together to create win-win situations for everybody it’s a magical thing,” Latour says. “I think that these are some of the foundational reasons why these businesses and people are so excited to be involved.”

HeroWork’s last renovation was the Citizens’ Counselling Centre of Greater Victoria. The King Street centre received more than $200,000 in improvements to its 3,000-square-foot building. The next HeroWork project is Esquimalt’s Rainbow Kitchen.

Moving forward, Latour would like to see the HeroWork program duplicated in other places.

“In every town and city across the country, charity infrastructure is diminished, from our food banks to our shelters to our youth housing, because a charity with increased needs and decreased resources is just trying to deliver their mandate,” Latour says. “It’s very difficult for them to maintain their buildings … so I do see this happening in many other places.”


Photo Caption: For HeroWork founder Paul Latour, the idea for the charity evolved out of helping a friend with multiple sclerosis renovate her backyard for mobility a project that Latour calls its own “mini Extreme Makeover.”

The Rainbow Kitchen (shown in the photo) will be HeroWork’s next Radical Renovation, estimated between $400,000 and $500,000. Preliminary plans include new electrical service, kitchen reconfiguration, a new dishwashing area, a walk-in fridge and freezer, new windows, replacing roof shingling, new flooring and new offices.