Gregg Gardiner said when his wife, the principal at Winship Middle School, came home from the Boys and Girls Club of the Redwoods in Eureka and described the state of the teen center building two months ago, he knew the community could join together to do better for the kids.
"Right now when it rains, parts of the building becomes unusable because there is water leaking through the roof," Gardiner, project coordinator for the renovation of the building, said. "That's our No. 1 priority in fixing this building. Additionally, there are lead paint issues that need to be remedied. There's a long list of needs, but the community is making them happen. Many of the tasks will require permits."
Liz Smith, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of the Redwoods, said this renovation will be a total transformation, bring the building that has been in existence since 1995 back to its original glory and provide a safe and more conducive space for teens.
"I think what I'm most excited about, is there's a community of people who came together, unsolicited and said they saw a need and are helping us fill the need," Smith said. "It's been a tough five years since beginning of the economic downturn. We've really been in survival mode, so to get to a place where we can further thrive is just amazing."
Gardiner, who is also the incoming president of the Rotary Club of Eureka, said the original estimate to make the space a more suitable space for the kids was over $1.4 million and, so far, promised donations have brought the cost of the project down to about $250,000 though those behind the project are still looking for grants and financial assistance from the community. All the rotary clubs in Eureka and Arcata are partnering for the project and the Humboldt Builders' Exchange and Teen Challenge of the Redwoods both recently voted to make this their annual project for 2014.
"We live in an incredibly generous community," Gardiner said. "I've been involved in nonprofits all of my adult life and have never seen the almost-100 percent community support that this project has. In a relatively short amount of time to go from needing a little over $1.4 million, to needing $250,000, that's just incredible. By the Teen Challenge making this their community service project of the year, they add a lot of strength. It's really amazing."
Builders' Exchange Board Member, Rob McBeth, said it's important to support the youth in the community, especially those that the Boys and Girls Club helps.
"The Builders' Exchange has approximately 300 business members through the community, mostly related to the building industry, such as architects and engineers," McBeth said. "We all felt, as an organization, this was a great project to get behind."
Roger Smith, project manager for the building's renovation, said how we address our teens today relates to how we will survive in the future.
"Without some guidance, teens have a tough time making it in today's world."
To participate or contribute to the retrofit of the building, contact Gregg Gardiner at 834-9595 or Gregg@101things.com
Jillian Singh is a reporter for the Times-Standard. She can be reached at 441-0509 or Jsingh@times-standard.com