Under normal circumstances, we would be writing to you to invite you to celebrate the Grand Opening of the Gustavus Community Center on 4th of July weekend. However, with the COVID19 virus breathing down our necks, life is far from anything resembling normal now.
At a time when working together means staying apart, the GCC Board is committed to safeguarding our community, while staying true to our mission. In that spirit, GCC has cancelled all scheduled events and activities until we can gather safely. We are following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state and local officials. In the meantime, we are taking full advantage of the unexpected pause to further outfit the Center and plan fun and educational events and activities for later dates.
To bring you up to date….
If you haven’t noticed, our Community Center is very nearly finished! We can’t wait to share with you how beautiful it is, and what an amazing job Seth, the Patrick brothers and crew, Mark, John, Elm, Ponch, Justin, and many others have done constructing this work of art for all of us to enjoy. You may have noticed the State of Alaska pickups parked at the Center--that’s because we are providing office space to the State Engineers responsible for inspecting the dock construction project.
Once the contractors are finished up, our next tasks will include finishing trim, installing acoustic panels and the video projector, and setting up the kitchen. All of this work is fully funded and will continue to the extent that government directives and safe practices allow. We anticipate that Peak Construction will turn the building over to GCC on or near April 7th, right on schedule!
Thanks to the City of Gustavus Endowment Grant, the center will be well insulated, have doors to the main hall, and nice interior trim and doors. Thanks to a strong volunteer effort led by our own Kyle Bishop (prior to social distancing mandates went into effect), the trim boards and doors have been coated with multiple coats of finish and are now staged for assembly and installation. Big thanks are owed to Valley Lumber, Valley Paint, and Peak Construction on this one as well.
In February, GCC was awarded a $55,000 from the USDA Rural Development Program (big thanks to Meadow Brook for pursuing that grant!) earmarked for furnishing the kitchen and related services. All of the support we’ve had from individuals, as well as the Rasmuson Foundation and the City Endowment were pivotal in the grant award – the success belongs to all of us. With those funds, we were able to purchase: a commercial-grade eight burner stove, various kitchen equipment, tables, chairs, a digital projector, a PA system, stainless steel counters and work tables, dish/flatware service for 200 people, a vent hood for over the stove, and a number of other items. Over the coming weeks those items will be arriving and we’ll start to set them up while following all current health and safety mandates. Many thanks are due to Cathy Martineau, Jane Button, Chris Gabriele, and Kathy Streveler for finding the right stuff at the best price and tackling the crazy amount of logistics required to get all of those items moving towards Gustavus.
In addition, thanks to the generosity of so many of YOU (with a special shout out to Dale and Honeybee Anderson for getting the ball rolling, and Justin Smith for design), we were also able to purchase acoustic panels that will help make the Main Hall a performance venue instead of an echo chamber. These panels, along with many of our new furnishings, are currently on a barge en route directly from Seattle to Gustavus, thanks to the continuing generosity of Kriss Hart and Western Marine Construction, who donated the freight charge for this huge shipment. This is a truly massive donation in these times of tough logistics in Gustavus.
Our next steps:
Even with a completed Center, our “To Do List” is long. For those of you seeking opportunities to volunteer, now is a GREAT time to share your time and talent to help! There are several unfunded jobs that will not prevent us from opening, but they are on our list of items to fund and complete either by more fundraising or grant writing in the future.
For example, we have some exercise equipment to install thanks to Diane and Bill Nash. Leah Okin-Magowan and Johan Janse van Rensburg have been helping us design the exercise area and consulting on what items to obtain.
der of the “To Do” list includes: equipment and furnishings, further furnishing the exercise room, flooring, north and south porch, outdoor area development, solar panel array, stage construction, and Main Hall storage room construction.
What GCC is doing to help Gustavus in the current COVID19 crisis:
We are in touch with the Gustavus Volunteer Fire Department and standing by to help with whatever emergency response functions may be needed. Let us know if you have ideas for how we can help. We were planning to set up a work space in the new center to make protective Tyvek gowns for local medical responders. However, due to the new state mandate released on 3/27/2020, that won’t be possible. Stay tuned on that one. When this order lifts, we can proceed with that plan. Meanwhile, masks can be sewn at home from fabric you may have on hand. There are patterns and instructions online (see Providence 1 Million Masks project), and local sewers and quilters are passing around information they've gathered. Pun intended. If you have time to help sew or make Tyvek gowns, or materials to help us, drop us an email.
While the COVID19 crisis has taken the wind out of our sails for opening the Center with a big splash this summer, it will be there for us all when the coast is clear. In the meantime, we are here for you, so please don’t hesitate to reach out at any time. Here in Gustavus we are in a relatively strong position. We live in a community that is abundant in so many things that others around the world are lacking. We are so fortunate to enjoy open space, clean air, abundant fish and wildlife, robust gardens, stocked pantries and root cellars, and night skies that are free of pollution. Most importantly, we are so lucky to have neighbors looking out for each other and sharing what we have with those that may need it. Once this is over, we will be able to celebrate together all that we have to be grateful for in a space that you helped to create. Thanks for all that you have done to get us this far.
On behalf of the Gustavus Community Center team and our board of directors, we wish you and your families the very best during these turbulent times.