LOWER EAST SIDE — “Mosaic Man” Jim Power has lived in his tiny studio apartment for the past five years, but it didn’t feel like home until Friday, when volunteers from Home Depot stopped by to upgrade his unit as part of a corporate program to help veterans.
“This has given me a personal peace of mind,” said Power, a Vietnam War veteran who is best known for the dozens of colorful tile mosaics he has installed on light poles in the East Village.
“I’m finally finding a real comfort in [thinking], ‘Maybe I should sit down for a minute and contemplate’ and that’s a real sign of being transformed.”
Led by Shane Duffy — the co-owner of SD Squared, a home renovation and design firm — a small team of employees from Home Depot’s Midtown location scrubbed down the 8-by-8-foot apartment, painted the walls, installed grab bars in the bathroom and completed other small renovations.
The project was part of the company’s Celebration of Service program, which repairs and restores the homes of military veterans nationwide between Sept. 11 and Veteran’s Day.
“We look at its as a give-back for all their hard years of service and what they did for America,” said Indarjit Roopchand, the department supervisor of the electrical and plumbing department at Home Depot’s Midtown store.
The company decided to fix up Power’s apartment in The Lee, a supportive housing development on Pitt Street, after East Village resident Julie Powell, who worked in the décor department, asked her manager if they could donate broken tiles to the 68-year-old artist, who is still decorating light poles even though he has difficulty moving and uses a scooter to get around.
"I thought wouldn’t this be a lovely thing to honor a veteran and give some materials but then that’s when [my manager]…said ‘We can come in and transform his home,’” she said.
In addition to the renovations, the Home Depot put in a workbench while Duffy — an army veteran who served in Afghanistan — custom-built a dresser and closet storage system for Power.
Power said he was grateful for the volunteers’ work.
“This has gone beyond helping,” he said.