21 May 2012

Strong Start

Recently I've had the pleasure of helping a local child abuse prevention non-profit, Strong Start, with some renovations to their new facility.

Strong Start (formerly called Relief Nursery of Central Texas) has served the Austin area for about five years. Through classes and other services for both parents and children, they have put hundreds of at-risk families on a path to success. Along the way, they have also saved taxpayers untold thousands of dollars, as it can cost $80,000/year for law enforcement and social services agencies to intervene after abuse has occurred, while Strong Start's services (which are free to families) cost only $3,500/year per child. (An ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure.) Strong Start had outgrown its 600-square-foot space, and the new 3,000-square-foot facility would allow the organization to provide more services to more families.

The new space is in an older building that needed A LOT of work, and although they had hired a contractor to do most of it, every bit that volunteers could do would reduce the bill and leave more money for the services Strong Start provides to families.

I love a good before and after, but unfortunately I didn't see the building before the work started, so I can only offer these pictures mid-way through the work, after walls had been reworked, new flooring was in, and everything was freshly painted:

On my first work day, I brought over my miter saw, nail gun, and air compressor and attached a ton of new base trim.

Another day, I put doorknobs on the doors, helped to build gates for the new playground, and took care of some odds and ends. As the grand opening drew near, after a parking lot had been transformed into a playground (you might say they unpaved a parking lot and put in paradise), I even planted a little garden.

And although I wasn't available to help make it happen, some crushed granite that was left over from building my cistern base became a bike path in the playground:

(Strong Start is also where I "donated" the dirt I excavated for the cistern base -- there was a ditch on the property that needed filling, so it was win-win.)

Strong Start celebrated its new facility (and new name!) twice -- first with a ribbon cutting attended by state and local dignitaries, and later with a grand opening reception. Both events, and the building itself, turned out great.

The plumber installed these tiny little potties in the classrooms.  (There will be a privacy curtain across the potty area.  Kids can't be trusted with doors, apparently.)

Each of these tiles, hung in the main room, was decorated by a Strong Start donor.  Over time, they hope to fill the whole wall with tiles.

I truly couldn't be happier to have been a part of Strong Start's strong new start. For more information about this amazing organization, or to make a donation, check out their website.

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