Partners in Philanthropy
By Ed Goldman, Correspondent; Sacramento Biz Journal; May 3rd, 2013
The GreenHouse, a nonprofit organization that provides after-school tutoring and a host of activities for underserved young people, has been working with professional carpenters, designers and a cadre of volunteers to restore the dilapidated community center that used to be its headquarters.
The facility is located in the Gardenland/Northgate neighborhood, which one project volunteer referred to as “one of the largest areas of Sacramento’s working poor.” That volunteer, Brenda Kress, executive director of the Sacramento chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, said that the neighborhood “has more children per capita, per square mile or per square inch — however they measure areas that are greatly impacted and under-resourced — than any other area in Sacramento.”
Members of her association and a group of local partners, including the Sacramento Waldorf School, have donated more than $30,000 in labor and materials to the restoration of the clubhouse, near the intersection of Northgate Boulevard and Garden Highway.
“The professional members of NARI, as well as their vendors and (subcontractors), are getting the building put back together,” Kress said. “In a few weeks, we expect to host what I’m calling an ‘unskilled-labor weekend’ for parents and other volunteers to come in and finish the project.”
Nar Bustamante, owner of Nar Fine Carpentry in Carmichael — and a new showroom on Town Center Boulevard in El Dorado Hills that should be open by Mother’s Day — has been spearheading the professional phase of the project. He said he’s been working with Morse Remodeling of Davis. “Morse really stepped in to help,” he said. “Their guys are taking on the kitchen remodel, and my company’s doing the bathrooms, but we’re both doing a little bit of everything.”
Bustamante said a teacher at Waldorf, the private pre-K-12 school in Fair Oaks that his children, Kamilo and Kailani, attend, approached him to take on the job. “I was invited to her home for a bowl of soup,” he recalled, and then laughed. “I had no idea what that single bowl of soup would commit me to.”
Waldorf affiliated itself with the Oasis Games, an international community-building program. Oasis inspires groups to go into “needful neighborhoods” and help them make their dreams for the area come to fruition, according to Kacie Stratton, founder and outgoing executive director of The GreenHouse.
“The seniors at Waldorf got involved with the program a year before we could even think about rebuilding the community center,” Stratton said. “When you think about it, students at a Waldorf school in Fair Oaks don’t necessarily have a lot in common with students in a neighborhood that’s filled with low-income housing. “It was a wonderful experience for each group to learn from each other and to work together.”
After a bunch of neighborhood projects, such as park cleanups and gardening, Stratton said the neighborhood’s residents decided it wanted to next restore The GreenHouse, whose staff of five had moved into a much smaller facility next door when its building fell into disrepair.
“We’ve done very well in the other building but have had only about a fourth of the space we’d had in the original building,” Stratton said. “We have waiting lists for kids wanting to get into our programs.”
Stratton, her husband, their 8-year-old son and twin 6-year boys, recently relocated to Oakland. The center’s new executive director, Brian Heller de Leon, began his job last month. “The most comforting thing about leaving,” Stratton said, “is in knowing that there’ll be a new clubhouse and greater capacity for helping kids from disadvantaged backgrounds.