A request for a refresh becomes a remodel thanks to a California club.
By Cindy Dashnaw
When the Kiwanis Club of Atascadero, California, asked the Meals That Connect kitchen manager for a wish list, Liz Dunn made it short: a thorough cleaning and a fresh coat of paint.
But that was too short for the Kiwanians. They knew this facility that prepared, served and delivered meals to people who are homebound needed much more.
Ben Mendoza and Tony Villa are two of the many Atascadero Kiwanians who regularly help out at Meals That Connect (formerly Meals on Wheels). One day, in what by then was a familiar conversation with the cook about the woeful state of the facility, the men suddenly identified a Kiwanis club project.
“The kitchen is in a converted garage of an old house, so it’s always been dingy and dirty. But when Tony and Ben asked some of us to come and really take a look, we were aghast at how bad it was,” says club member Ernie Graham.
The club had US$5,000 in its community service budget. They voted unanimously to spend it on remodeling the Meals That Connect kitchen.
“We stripped it down to the walls” says Graham’s wife, Kathleen. “Everything came out.”
Then club members removed old cabinets and fixed or replaced them. They tore down rotting walls and installed new sheetrock. They upgraded lighting and replaced the garbage disposal. They installed two stainless-steel sinks, and a member who’s a plumber corrected the freshwater connections and wastewater disposal slope. An electrician, also a member, brought the electricity up to code.
When it came time to replace the floor’s worn-out linoleum, yet another Kiwanian stepped up.
“One of our members whose family owns a flooring store realized we couldn’t lay the floor until the concrete underneath was repaired,” Graham says. “So she did that first and then installed heavy-duty vinyl flooring.”
In addition, members used products donated by area Home Depot, Idler’s Home and Sherwin-Williams stores and monetary gifts from several club members. In all, 28 of the club’s 98 members worked on the remodel.
The dedicated team finished in nine days, spending less than half the budgeted amount. That wasn’t surprising to the project’s manager, Glen Casey.
“We’ve helped rebuild a community bandstand and remodel a homeless shelter. When we put a message out about our needs, people show up. We create partnerships. We know we can do a whole lot more together than we can individually.”