OAKLAND -- A downtown Oakland drop-in center for homeless and low-income men that had become worn and in need of renewal now has a fresh start.

The St. Vincent de Paul Champion Guidance Center for Men is sporting new flooring, a renovated shower and restroom area, new cabinets and furniture, paint, and other improvements courtesy of a trio of groups.

Skanska USA Building Inc. and Anderson Carpet on Oakland spruced up the center, with support from Rebuilding Together Oakland. Skanska and Anderson Carpets donated materials and volunteer labor for the center at 2272 San Pablo Ave. They also refurbished the sorting closet, which is used to store and sort donations.

The nonprofit Rebuilding Together Oakland joins volunteers and communities to improve homes and nonprofit facilities with repairs and upgrades. Skanska USA is a construction and development company headquartered in New York and Anderson Carpet is an Oakland flooring firm. They also refurbished the sorting closet, which is used to store and sort donations.

The center was opened nearly 10 years ago to provide free showers, laundry facilities, hygiene kits, telephone access, the men's recovery group, haircuts and referrals. Men may also have a complimentary cup of coffee and a pastry, read newspapers and watch news on TV at the center, which is near a bus stop and not far from BART. Last year, it served 1,514 men. Adjacent to the center is a dining room where food is available.


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Melanie Diegel, giving and events manager for St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County, said the donations and volunteer work of the companies and the help from Rebuilding Together Oakland has transformed the center from a drab place with repair needs to a bright, fully functional place for men who need respite, hygiene and a sense of community.

"We are so grateful for their hard work and generosity," she said. "They did a remarkable job."

The volunteers also worked over weekends to get the work done as quickly as possible to make construction, plumbing and other repairs. The work began April 20 and was completed April 27. The center is not an overnight shelter, but its staff can offer referrals to shelters. It is open from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The dining room is open from 10:45 a.m. to 12.45 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

A drop-in center for women and children is also nearby, offering diapers and formula, classes about domestic violence and anger management, some clothing and other services including job training and medical clinics. Its hours are 9:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For services and eligibility information for the centers call 510-877-9234.

St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County, which has been providing services for 75 years, runs three thrift stores in Oakland, Fremont and Livermore, the Redux Studios and Gallery in Alameda and an electronics waste recycling program. Volunteers also provide services through Catholic parishes in Alameda County. For more information, go to http://www.svdp-alameda.org/