Sacramento homeless shelter gets a face-lift

Jeff vonKaenel

June 30 was a hot day. The temperature was well on its way to 107 degrees when Next Move’s Family Shelter had its grand reopening. But as I walked through the totally rebuilt facility, after a renovation that added 30 more beds to the original 55, three new classrooms, a top-notch commercial kitchen, a new dining room, a computer lab and space for a new SETA Head Start Program, I kept thinking of one of my favorite Winston Churchill quotes:

“We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us.’’

When I had previously visited the old building on Parker Avenue in South Oak Park, it felt run down. The building was on its last legs, needed many repairs, and the kitchen and other rooms were inadequate for the demands being placed on them. That said, it sure beat homelessness. It sure beat separation from your kids. And despite the run-down building, even then there was obvious love between the staff and the residents.

Over the last year, the old building was torn down, and a brand new, beautiful, energy-efficient facility was built. What a difference. The rooms feel solid. The kitchen is to die for. The new facility is more functional. It is also more hopeful. It says, both in its construction and its design, “We care for you. We are happy to help you get back on your feet. We built this building because we believe in you and your children. This building is your Next Move.”

As you may imagine, putting together the resources to build the new facility was not easy. There were a bunch of heroes. The North State Building Industry Association’s HomeAid Sacramento contributed more than $500,000 of in-kind donations. USA Properties Fund did the construction. Next Move raised $300,000 through fundraisers and private donations. The State of California contributed $1 million through an Emergency Housing and Assistant Program grant.

Even with these partners, the building project was stalled, until Goodwill Industries of Sacramento Valley & Northern Nevada got involved. In addition to contributing $1 million for construction, Goodwill will also help with vocational training. The Family Shelter will provide temporary housing for a family until it can get back on its feet. The on-the-job training provided by Goodwill will go a long way toward helping these families on that path.

Goodwill in Sacramento is booming. During CEO Joseph Mendez’s tenure, Goodwill Industries’ revenue in Sacramento increased tenfold to $60 million. Mendez believes it is time for Goodwill to expand their mission. That is why they are forming partnerships with organizations such as Next Move.

The grand reopening was a proud Sacramento moment. The day was hot. And the clothes were warm. As Winston would say, “This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure.”

And: “We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us.’’ Now the shaping begins. And we all will be better for it.

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.