For HomeAid and its industry partners, refurbishing a domestic violence shelter in Fairfield for SafeQuest Solano in October 2018 was all in a day’s work. But for the service provider, it was a miracle.
“I’ve been in the homeless shelter business for 25 years and I’ve never seen anything like it,” said SafeQuest Solano Executive Director Robert Tobin. “I’ve never seen people respond as quickly as they did. ...We have been fully occupied every night since the shelter opened.”
Through HomeAid, Richmond American Homes and its trade partners remodeled and furnished a three-bedroom shelter where families go to escape domestic violence and sexual assault. The $100,000 remodel included flooring, painting, new appliances, painting, play structure, vegetable gardens and roofing. Richmond American even designed the interior spaces to allow families to move in with all new linens, furniture and a stocked pantry! Jerry McCarn of Richmond American Homes personally built a nook set for the families.
Without HomeAid, Tobin says SafeQuest would have had to launch a time-consuming capital fundraising campaign with an uncertain outcome or timeline for completion. The shelter would almost certainly not be open today.
“Richmond American and the sub-contractors did all the work in about six weeks,” Tobin said. “It was remarkable but everyone recognized that time was of the essence. People were dying to get into this shelter. Literally.”
The shelter was a mess when SafeQuest took over its operation at the City of Fairfield’s request. The previous operator had shut the shelter down, leaving behind a structure that needed a major face-lift. The city offered to lease the facility to SafeQuest for a $1 year in exchange for undertaking the repairs. At the time, the city estimated the center needed about $30,000 worth of work.
Knowing that demand for this type of shelter space is both high and critical, Tobin recalled hearing about about HomeAid from Sacramento County Supervisor and former BIA|Bay Area staffer Phil Serna. Tobin put in a call to HomeAid Executive Director Cheryl O’Connor and within days, she arranged a site visit with Richmond American.
The repairs are one thing, Richmond American’s McCarn told Tobin. But what about the awful state of the landscaping? What about furnishings? No worries, McCarn said. Richmond American would take care of it, all of it.
“The families who stay here are shocked at how nice everything is,” Tobin said. “They aren’t expecting anything. They are beaten down. But they can’t believe it. There are bath towels in the cupboard! There are brand new baby cribs, everything they need. To have a top-notch facility where Richmond American and its partners not only fixed the plumbing and the AC but provided quality furnishings was huge for us.”
Tobin described HomeAid and its partners’ contributions as the “gift that keeps on giving every day because creating a quality environment for people who really need that kind of affirmation is life-changing. Your members should know that.”