Let the Sun Shine In

Carmichael, CA (MPG)  |  Story and photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner
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Military veterans Don Harper (left), Dennis Modin, Michael Spiro and Joseph Bellacera join SMUD director Heidi Sanborn (center) and Carmichael Parks Foundation supporters at Veterans Hall. A SMUD grant will replace outdated windows as part of the building’s $50,000 renovation.

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CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Pioneers Charles Deterding and Ancil Hoffman helped lay a Veterans Hall cornerstone in 1951. Beyond that date, few upgrades benefited the Carmichael Recreation and Park District facility. Bearing a $50,000 price tag, a long-overdue facelift began last year.

The hall will reopen this spring with fresh landscaping, indoor lockers, air-conditioning, dry-walling, a new furnace and a complete paint job. Brightest embellishment will be 21 dual-pane windows, installed with funding from Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

SMUD’s $21,000 “Shine” grant was recently awarded to Carmichael Parks Foundation. The utility giant assists selected non-profit projects that improve energy use in public buildings. State-of-the-art windows will not only please veteran groups; the 3500 sq ft complex accommodates preschool programs, auto club meetings and fitness classes. Its rooms are also available for rent. 

“I’ve taught exercise groups here for over 30 years,” notes Parks Foundation President Sharon Ruffner. “In all that time, we’ve not been able to open a window for fresh air. The fragile old wood frames were sealed shut. Everyone‒from tiny tots to seniors who meet here–will appreciate all these renovations.”

The project began last year when Carmichael Rotary Club members dug in for landscaping. Their donation and matching funds from Rotary International yielded $5000; this will also build display cases for veteran memorabilia. Carmichael Park District provided matching cash for this and the SMUD donation.

Though the utility district is annually inundated with funding requests, Ruffner attributes the Foundation windfall to the variety of age and interest groups that will gain from SMUD’s contribution. “Our Park District is one of very few that doesn’t benefit from a property tax assessment,” she explains. “We were overjoyed to get this grant. Our renovations honor an historic building and the veterans who served our county.”

Foundation and Park District plan a project-completion celebration before summer. Carmichael Veterans Hall is located at 5750 Grant Avenue.