Center to enrich lives of homeless kids

On Wednesday, May 11, 2011, Coalition for the Homeless cut the ribbon on a new Children’s Enrichment Center for homeless children.  Located on the Coalition’s Central Boulevard campus, the refurbished building had been serving for nearly five years as a storage facility until its amazing transformation over the last eight months, through the generosity of companies within the community.  Immediately prior to its tenure as a deteriorating holding space for files, toilet paper, blankets and other supplies needed daily for Coalition residents, the building housed a dental clinic for homeless individuals. 

Coalition children held the ribbon, which was cut by Coalition President/CEO Brent Trotter, Coalition Board Chair Dana Loncar, Diane Young from Universal Orlando, Mark Pulley from Walt Disney World Resort, and Tasha Robinson-Banks from our on-site Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida Downtown Branch.  Everyone feasted on cupcakes and beverages to celebrate!

Mr. Trotter led the festivities, proclaiming “To prepare for the upcoming construction of our new Men’s Service Center, we needed to remove the portables that housed some of our children’s services, such as the onsite Boys & Girls Clubs, and relocate those services.  We knew the storage building could provide a perfect solution, if it were not in such terrible condition.  That’s when Universal Orlando Foundation, Walt Disney World Resort, Lincoln Properties, the team of generous sub-contractors led by Interstruct. Inc. and a number of other partners came together to invest in the Coalition.  What you see here today is a significant community investment!”

We were gratified to be able to leverage grants of $20,000 each from Universal Orlando Foundation and Walt Disney World Resort into over $80,000 in building renovations, thanks to donated materials and services.  Architect Brian Wehling provided his talents to convert the Coalition’s ideas into redesign drawings.  Coalition Board member and Sr. Vice President of Lincoln Property Company of Florida, Scott Stahley, and his colleague, Ed Price, demolished interior walls themselves on weekends.  Design in hand, Stahley approached Ryan Young, President of Interstruct, Inc., to manage the renovation pro-bono.

Impressed with the Coalition’s mission and “glad we were able to be a part of the solution,” Interstruct’s Young said, “We’re in!”  His team and site leader, Keith Dorsey, completed the demolition, lined-up sub-contractors, most of whom donated their services, and coordinated the reconstruction work.  In Dorsey’s words, “The building was a disaster.  I was overwhelmed at the amount of work to be done in a short time frame.  We just dug in and the dumpsters were overflowing.”

Subcontractors included Roger Urbina, demolition and drywall; Jim’s Plumbing; Topline Partitions; ACIS, ceiling work; Hicks Electrical; Dye’s Painting; and Hudson Everly, flooring.   The demolition crew was also quite impressed with the Coalition residents who labored alongside them to demolish and dispose of old drywall, plumbing fixtures and flooring, etc., to make way for the new.  One client so impressed them that Interstruct hired him for several outside jobs!   

In addition to its new walls, paint, flooring, ceiling tiles, roof, major systems and more, the renovated building now sports a sparkling kitchen.  The cabinetry, countertops, plumbing, and stainless steel appliances were donated and installed by Manheim Central Florida.  Funds for other needs were donated by Scott Imberman of EA Sports.

Continuing a 17 year collaborative partnership, the Coalition will set aside space in the Children’s Enrichment Center for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida Downtown Branch to deliver its after-school and summer programs, until the point at which their organization locates a permanent site for the branch.  The Center will also accommodate Coalition children’s activities on nights and weekends.  In the longer-term, the facility will provide much-needed space for a variety of Coalition activities geared to breaking the cycle of homelessness for the over 220 children, in more than 115 families, the Coalition serves each day.