From Renovation to Completion: Nuestra Casa Celebration

 nc-22

Nuestra Casa was the venue for an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, February 28, to celebrate key donors and volunteers. Attendees were invited to tour the facility, which underwent renovation beginning in 2011. After the ribbon cutting ceremony, Westcore Neighbors gathered for a potluck to showcase the new venue for neighborhood activities. Book groups, cooking classes, canning classes, mentoring activities, music lessons, crafts for kids, reading activities, and community gardening are interests initially expressed by neighbors when the project kicked off. The center is located at 253 W. 15th Street in Holland.

Nuestra Casa renovation has been a collaborative project among Women’s Service Day, Good Samaritan Ministries, New Community/Fourth Reformed Church, and Westcore Neighbors. Women’s Service Day managed the fundraising and construction, which culminated in an open house to thank donors and key volunteers for their contributions. It was once a dream among neighbors that has been realized with the help of many hands.

“When we began the project,” said Nuestra Casa core team leader Lois Maassen, “there were nearly 250 vacant houses in the City of Holland alone. Nuestra Casa became an opportunity to turn one of them into a neighborhood center to create ‘pride of place’ and a gathering place for residents living among so many abandoned homes.” The project modeled asset-based community development by engaging community members in fundraising and construction. Ideally, Nuestra Casa can help residents foster a healthy, safe community.

nc-12

More than 50 people came to see the new center on a bright winter’s day. For the ribbon cutting ceremony they assembled outside on the new ramp constructed for wheelchair access, commemorating the transition from renovation to operation.

“We’ve learned a lot along the way,” said Maassen. “We’ve learned about community and what can happen when people pool their skills and their talents and their determination. We’ve learned about the relationship between vision and tenacity. Perhaps we’ve learned the most about gratitude: to each other as Women’s Service Day teammates; to the people who represent our partners; to the members of the project core team; to the donors who believed in and supported the project; to the volunteers who contributed untold hours of labor.”

After cutting the ribbon, symbolizing the transition from Women’s Service Day to Westcore Neighbors, Program Director Raul Garcia said, “This gathering place is a dream becoming reality. It has taken a village to undertake a project like Nuestra Casa, and we wouldn’t be standing here without the support of the larger community and Women’s Service Day. This is only the beginning of even greater things to come.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Built in 1896, the house was donated to New Community/Fourth Reformed Church in 2009. Several organizations, including the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area, Women Who Care Holland, and many individuals contributed to the $75,000 budget; local businesses offered gifts in kind and reduced pricing. Hundreds of people in the community contributed to numerous fundraising events coordinated by Women’s Service Day, which also won the national online Marigold Ideas for Good contest and a financial contribution.

Meanwhile, the construction team recruited volunteers from all over Holland, through a variety of organizations, to reinforce structures, install drywall and windows, replace siding, and even raise the roof. Several members of Hope Church have dedicated their time to lead construction crews for the past two years. Women’s Service Day has assigned volunteers to the Nuestra Casa projects during their annual event four years in a row. And Hope College students have contributed their efforts during their Time to Serve event. Finishing touches—from paint to cabinets and appliances to carpet and curtains—were completed in January and February this year.

To learn more about Nuestra Casa, visit the center’s blog: http://nuestracasathegatheringplace.wordpress.com/.

Transforming Space to Help Transform Lives

Pathways MI It began as a project for Women’s Service Day, to be accomplished by a group of volunteers in one day. But the planning team quickly realized that the Pathways MI Holland facility required more than a refresh. We were in for a major renovation–to create an environment that would be soothing for people that come to Pathways under duress, as well as the staff who work so hard to help them. Pathways works to provide loving homes for abused and neglected kids who end up in foster care. Michigan has approximately 13,000 children in foster care and, for those transitioning from foster care to adulthood, the statistics are hard to hear:

  • 25% of them will be homeless.
  • Within a year and a half, 84% will become parents.
  • Half will be unemployed.

We need to change those statistics. Pathways provides life-transforming services to children, families, and our community to help create fulfilling and protected lives. And one way to help transform their lives is by transforming the space in which life-changing decisions and events occur. Women’s Service Day focused on three areas within the Holland facility for refurbishment on August 14: the lobby, the courtyard, and the landscaping flanking the entrance to the building. Here’s what these spaces looked like before the renovation.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Months before our event, a team worked with Pathways to define objectives: new paint and carpet were desperately needed in the lobby to take it from old hospital blue to a natured-inspired minty green. Furniture would be refurbished and new pieces would be purchased. The courtyard needed a crew that knew how to weed. And a landscaper was asked to donate plants for the front of the building. While the team worked on fundraising, organizations stepped forward with donations. Using their network, the Pathways renovation team found a landscaper who offered plants at discount. An interior designer worked tirelessly–even donating fabric she bought–to choose colors, buy paint and carpet tiles, find furniture, and arrange for reupholstery. Then, on the day of the event, a crew of volunteers arrived to remove old furniture (which went to a resale business), pull up carpet, sand the floor, spackle and paint, pull weeds, put in new plantings, and install the artistic birdhouses that now catch the eyes of everyone who can view the courtyard. Here’s how the Pathways MI Holland facility was transformed in just over a day.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The transformation has made a huge difference for the staff, who love to spend time in the lobby. (More renovations are in the plan for spaces they occupy in the rest of the building.) Clients are amazed when they come through the door. The Pathways Holland facility is an inviting, calming space that people are drawn to. Thank you to the donors of funds, talent, time, and gifts in kind, including Carol Rickey, Alyce Doss, Skyline Design, Cumberland FurnitureWestview Farms, Comfort Research, and Haworth, Inc., as well as all our Women’s Service Day 2014 volunteers.

Working Together for the Greater Good of Our Community

WSD

That’s how one participant phrased it after participating in Women’s Service Day 2014. She said, “It is amazing what we can accomplish in a short amount of time, [and] meeting other women from companies in the area that I would not normally interact with.”

We couldn’t be more thrilled to hear a volunteer express two of the goals our planning team established back in 2001: making a difference for women and children in our community, and networking with other women.

On August 14, around 120 volunteers showed up to accomplish tasks and participate in fundraising activities for the 13th annual Women’s Service Day. In the morning and afternoon, they helped a number of nonprofits in the area, including:

Center for Women in Transition and Girls on the Run
Holland Rescue Mission, including Stepping Stones Day Care at the Family Hope Ministry Center
Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity
My Sister’s House II
Nestlings Diaper Bank
Nuestra Casa neighborhood center
Pathways, MI
Ready for School
8th Day Farm

During lunch, volunteers contributed to a raffle fundraiser for the Kelly Markatos Memorial Buildthrough Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity; together, we donated $1,248. They also filled a van with school supplies for Sylvia’s Place.

volunteers

Volunteers carry some of the supplies donated for Sylvia’s Place

Sylvias

The van from Sylvia’s Place is filled with school supplies and ready to roll

Check out all the photos that reveal what happened in one day.

To quote another volunteer, “I loved meeting new people and helping to make a difference. It was great to have the opportunity to learn new skills, while helping a great cause.”

Does that entice you to get involved next year? Get on the mailing list by emailing womensserviceday@gmail.com.

Thank You, Women’s Service Day Volunteers!

Landscaping renovation at Pathways MIWhat a wonderful day for the Holland community! Around 120 volunteers showed up to accomplish tasks and participate in fundraising activities for the 13th annual Women’s Service Day on August 14. In the morning and afternoon, they helped a number of nonprofits in the area, including:

Center for Women in Transition and Girls on the Run
Holland Rescue Mission, including Stepping Stones Day Care at the Family Hope Ministry Center
Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity
My Sister’s House II
Nestlings Diaper Bank
Nuestra Casa neighborhood center
Pathways, MI
Ready for School
8th Day Farm

During lunch, they contributed to a raffle fundraiser for the Kelly Markatos Memorial Build through Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity; together, we contributed $1,248. They also filled a van with school supplies for Sylvia’s Place.

Stay tuned for the full story–with photos–to see all they accomplished in just one day! For now, here’s a peek at some of the crews at work. And check out the Holland Sentinel article that was published about Women’s Service Day today.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s Never Too Late to Volunteer

Because of a few cancelations and schedule changes, we’re still looking for volunteers for this week Thursday, August 14. In the morning, the crew will clean toys and equipment for the Stepping Stones daycare center; in the afternoon, we have a Lakeshore Habitat home lined up. Do you have a chunk of time and some skills in either cleaning or construction?

If you do, we’d love to see you! We’d also welcome you to lunch, where you can meet many other fabulous volunteers at work around the community. See the full information about the event online in this blog post.

And if we’re lucky enough to have filled both of these crews by the time we hear from you, we’d be happy to add you to the crew that next most needs you. To volunteer, use this online form; if you have questions, use the contact form on this website to be in touch or email us at womensserviceday (at) gmail.com.

Reminders for Volunteers on August 14

Shepherd House - Holland Rescue Mission

Women’s Service Day is approaching fast and the planning team is finalizing details. Registered participants should have received their crew information by now. Meanwhile, we’d like to remind you of some logistics.

Activities planned for August 14 will range from several crew assignments  in support of Nuestra Casa neighborhood center, and a facility makeover at Pathways MI, as well as tasks at local nonprofit agencies who have come to depend on our annual event. (Read more about where we’re making a difference.) Morning crews will begin at 8:30 a.m. and afternoon crews will start right after lunch, between 1:15 and 1:30.

Our lunch celebration will be from 11:45 to 1 p.m. at Hope Church, centrally located at 77 West Eleventh Street in Holland (between River and Pine Avenues, just south of downtown Holland and west of Centennial Park). We request a cash lunch donation of $5.00, collected upon arrival at the church.

During lunch we’ll hold a raffle for items and services donated by local artisans and small business owners. Pricing is as follows: 2 tickets for $10 or 5 tickets for $20. Check out the slide show of raffle items, and remember to bring either cash or your checkbook! Proceeds will benefit Kelly Markatos Memorial Build, a Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity House.

For our donation drive, we’ll be collecting school supplies for Sylvia’s Placea refuge for those fleeing domestic violence. Please see the full list of needed supplies in this blog post.

Finally, remember to dress for the weather and the tasks you’re assigned: work gloves, closed-toe shoes, sunscreen, and bottled water are suggested items you may want to consider. Although the forecast for Thursday looks fabulous, we know how Michigan weather goes! Our plan to do everything possible, rain or shine!

Got a friend who’s heard about the great work you’re doing this week? We still have room for more volunteers. Please be sure she e-mails us her contact information immediately, and we’ll get her assigned!

If you have a last-minute change in plans (sickness, business crisis, etc.) and are unable to participate—or just need directions—please contact us via e-mail as soon as possible.

Don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Google+ and Twitter! You can also follow the day through photos and updates on Twitter (@womenserviceday) and tweet your own experiences, too, using the hashtag #WSDHolland.

Looking forward to serving with you on August 14!

Sneak Peak: What’s in the Raffle

ticketAt lunch on Women’s Service Day this year we will be holding a raffle to benefit the Kelly Markatos Memorial Build through Lakeshore Habitat for Humanitywith some proceeds covering minor event costs. Thanks to the local artisans and small business owners who have donated items they made or offered gift certificates for services they provide.

We are also grateful to Herman Miller, which has donated several seating products to the raffle.

Pricing is as follows: 2 tickets for $10 or 5 tickets for $20.

Check out the slide show below, and remember to bring your checkbook!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.