As everyone reeled in the hours following the fire, a very large and very welcome life preserver was thrown to us in our turbulent sea. Sutter Medical Center Sacramento offered River City Food Bank temporary operating space in the lower floor of their parking garage, just across from our still-smoking agency home.
Saying “yes” was the easy part. Eileen wasn’t daunted that the Sutter space was unimproved – a shell with no walls, electrical or plumbing – but she didn’t know what lay ahead even with a very straightforward plan to make the space operable for what she expected to be a matter of months. Richard Sambucetti of Borgess Architectural guided the process of space planning through the sometimes tedious, sometimes frustrating process of permitting. The City’s Planning Department, operating in very lean times, did its best to provide prompt feedback and to turn the permit request around as quickly as possible.
Not surprisingly, River City Food Bank wanted to make the minimum improvements possible given that it would not benefit from the bathroom, sink, walls and venting that were eventually required. Equally understandably, the City wanted to make sure that its building codes – intended to protect public safety – were enforced fairly.
As time passed, what would become one of the wettest winters in years started to make it impossible to operate on the street. Another blessing: Trinity Cathedral offered their Great Hall and Sunday School classrooms when November and December rain and wind moved in.
When we set a date of December 1 to celebrate our new temporary home, we were confident that construction would be completed.
Instead, we hadn’t been given permission to start. Eileen and Susan Timmer, Board President, braved the cold for the early morning media event and let visitors see the space that would soon be bustling with activity. The “star” of the event was Eileen’s laptop, from which – miraculously – RCFB’s computer consultant, Dan Goodlet, owner of Enable Network, had been able to retrieve emails, documents and data.
It was short but sweet: most of all, a public opportunity to recognize Steve Cohn, Sacramento City Council member for the third district, and representatives of two our our major sponsors, Keri Thomas of Sutter Medical Center Sacramento and Joanne Bronsen of Wells Fargo. We also thanked Sierra Health, Kaiser Permanente, Sacramento Region Community Foundation, Golden One Credit Union, Delta Dental, the Sacramento Bee and the van Loben Sels/RembeRock Foundation.
Hours later, the day went from good to great. Eileen sent this email to the Board thanking them for their participation in the morning event, and relaying news of an amazing donation: