Pat Sterck counts 25 years that she has pushed for the creation of a community Center, library and place for kids in the bustling struggle, multicultural southwest section of Santa Rosa.
After many disappointments, she and others in the quest have acquired some portable buildings and a spot on Sebastopol Road to put them
"This time, it's really meant to be," said the 74 year old retired PG&E service agent.
But her elation deflates a bit as she ponders the challenges to be overcome before four surplus municipal buildings currently stored miles away becomes a true southwest neighborhood asset.
Victory Outreach Associate Pastor Elias Gaitan, left, and Roseland Lions Club President Pat Sterck
Pastor Guadarrama said "Right now the financial part of it becomes a little problem."
Sterck who freely admits she is new to the complexities of developing a community center, figures the Lions Club needs to come up with about $200,000.00 worth of labor and materials. She's hoping civic minded contractors will donate much of the work.
The Lions have opened a Wells Fargo Bank account to receive donations, and Sterck intends to sell personalized tiles to be used for a wall or floor at the center.
She looks at the bare spot alongside the Victory Outreach church and imagines a gathering place alive with engaged children, a small lending library, Lions meetings, language and cooking classes and an involving role in the vitality of an under served community. "We have most of the programs together" she said "all of them I think".
Sterck is determined that their attempt to bring a services and activities center to the neighborhood won't fail. As she works to enlist help and resolve challenges, she admits she's also "crossing my fingers and saying my prayers."
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City permits, more money and more contractors willing to break a sweat for free are needed by Sterck and her Roseland Lions Club and their primary partners --the Vitory Outreach church near where Sebastopol Road crosses Wright Road, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Santa Rosa.
"It's going very slow" Sterck said "But it's going".
The church has agreed to provide a space for the modulars, which the Lions purchased from the City for $3,200.00 in an auction. The four structures had housed the Bennett Valley Golf Course clubhouse and pro-shop during construction of the new facility that opened in 2007.
Pastor Jose Guadarrama of Victory Outreach said the evangelical ministry has long sought to provide a community and youth center to the southwest neighborhood.
For a long time, Victory Outreach operated a community resource center in a building it owns at the corner of Sebastopol and Wright roads, but financial pressure prompted the church to close it and rent the space for a small grocery store.
Guadarrame and his associate Pastor, Elias Gaitan, said they believe God brought Sterck to them to ask that Victory Outreach accept the Lions Club's community center onto its land and to take a role in the service to be offered there. "We had no problem giving her a piece of the property," he said.
Guadarrana intends to ask young people who live in the southwest area and who might have too much idle time on their hands what activities and services they'd like to see at the place. "We want to do what they want to do, something that's fun and at the same time provides character-development" the pastor said.
He envisions kids coming to the center for tutoring, play and creative constructive endeavors. He'd love to see a recording studio where they'd be encouraged to make music with positive themes.
The partnership plan calls for the Boys and Girls Clubs to manage the center and to provide after school services for youngsters.
"It's a dream we've been working on together for a long time" said CEO Mary Bates, whose organization currently serves the kids at 5 Santa Rosa locations. She said there will be a full range Boys and Girls Clubs activities at the Sebastopol Road location including a home work club, educational games, recreational activities and out door play. Bates intends to generate income by renting space for the community meetings and activities. And she is doing fundraising to help meet the cost for the prospective new venture.
Sterck and the Lions Club are trying to raise money, too. It will be costly to prepare the plot of bare land on the Victory Outreach site for the arrival of the portables, concrete work will need to be done and utilities connected to the parcel. Moving the buildings from where they've been long stored in Windsor won't be cheap, nor will equipping and furnishing them for use as a community center .