Redondo Beach firefighters and paramedics at will no longer have to cook their food in a hopeless place, thanks to South Bay-based organization Sharefest Inc. and the generosity of the community.
The Redondo Beach City Council unanimously approved on Tuesday a memorandum of understanding between the city and Sharefest that allows the organization to remodel the fire station's aging kitchen, as well as the station's bathroom, laundry room, common area, conference room and dorms.
The remodel will cost the city nothing, as costs will be covered by Sharefest and donations, according to Sharefest Executive Director Chad Mayer. The total cost of the remodel will be about $85,000; normally, this sort of project would cost about $250,000.
"It's definitely one of our largest undertakings," said Sharefest Project Manager Shannell McMillan.
The plight of the men and women who live part-time and work at Fire Station No. 1 went viral earlier this year after the firefighters created a music video called "We Cook Our Food in a Hopeless Place," sung to the tune of Rihanna's "We Found Love," in order to drum up votes in the Family Handyman's Rescue Remodel contest.
The contest featured five finalists, including Redondo's Fire Station No. 1, that were competing for a $25,000 kitchen makeover from IKEA.
Even before the competition had ended, "we had close to half a dozen, if not a couple more, people (and) business owners from various areas of Los Angeles and the local community (who) stepped forward and wanted to make a contribution of some sort," Fire Chief Dan Madrigal told Patch. "At this point, although we came in third place, Sharefest has stepped up to volunteer their services to coordinate with these business owners the reconstruction of the Fire Station No. 1 kitchen...
"Although we didn't win, we turned out to be a winner, anyway."
Sharefest, an organization that helps local businesses and volunteers give back to their communities, is no stranger to city officials. The organization has coordinated work at Perry Park and an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition that was taped in Redondo Beach.
"They have a proven track record of coordinating contractors, redesigning, rebuilding in construction areas," Madrigal said.
One contractor has already volunteered his services, McMillan said. John Pitzer from Pitzer Construction Company Inc. is a retired Redondo Beach Harbormaster who worked for the city for more than 35 years. He'll be responsible for all the subcontractors, she said.
Sharefest is also looking for skilled workers to donate their time, as well as donated appliances.
"(We need) any skilled … carpenters, painters, plumbers and electricians," McMillan said. She's also hoping appliance manufacturers will donate appliances, such as a commercial refrigerator, a residential refrigerator, a washing machine, a dryer and a European-height dishwasher.
IKEA also donated $500 toward appliances to each of the finalists in the Rescue Remodel competition.
The remodel will begin April 17 and continue through April 28.
"It's a nine-month project that's going to be done in four weeks," Mayer said.
The end date for the project coincides with Sharefest's ninth annual work day, and the project at Fire Station No. 1 is only one of the 350 projects at 55 locations. During the work day, there will be a Red Cross blood drive, a soles4life shoe drive, a concert, food and an open house.
It will be a big community event, McMillan said.
As for the firefighters, "we're just very happy and excited (that) something that turned out to be a little fun and somewhat of a joke" turned out so well, Madrigal said. "We just put our hat in the ring, and out of it we've got so much community spirit … It was quite an uplifting story—a lot of fun, and we had a great time participating."