April 6, 2015Vol. 45, Issue 4

Spirit of Service

Dedication Held for Blitz Build Community Service Project

From left, 2014 Blitz Build student leaders Emma Caswell and Justin Besotes joined construction management (CM) professor David Shirah, CM student Zoey Wilson, and CM professor emeritus Jim O’Bannon at a ribbon cutting for four transitional housing units Feb. 18. They were among nearly 100 volunteers who constructed the units last spring on behalf of the Chico Salvation Army.


The air was brisk, but the hearts of attendees were warmed by the incredible community spirit represented at the dedication of the Chico Salvation Army’s Ann and Emmett Skinner Transitional Living Program Feb. 18.

About 100 came to the ribbon cutting at 745 Salem Street in Chico, where two duplexes were constructed in 2014 by student and faculty volunteers from CSU, Chico’s College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management and by community and business volunteers.

The four-unit facility now serves single-parent families who have successfully transitioned out of the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Program. Besides housing participants, the program provides continued case management, weekly counseling, 12-step programming and community outreach which participants need to regain stability and recover as a family.  

Interim Provost Susan Elrod commended construction management students and faculty on their extraordinary service to the community.

Interim Provost Susan Elrod commended construction management students and faculty on their extraordinary service to the community.

The majority of the construction took place in last March during a nine-day “blitz build.” Students, faculty, staff, advisors, and other community volunteers worked daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. to complete the work during their spring breaks. Each shift consisted of 50 to 60 volunteers hammering, cutting, and laboring to aid in the successful completion of the project.

The project includes a number of special features, including high-efficiency heating and air conditioning equipment, instant water heaters, drought tolerant landscaping, LED lighting, high-efficiency appliances, and solar electricity.

In addition to the approximately 90 student volunteers, about 75 community members volunteered during the build, including a group of 40 employees from Pacific Gas and Electric Co. The project was made possible by substantial contributions by Ann and Emmett Skinner and other local donors. The total project cost is estimated at $500,000.

The two-bedroom, one-bathroom homes are serving those transitioning out of the Salvation Army’s rehabilitation programs.

The two-bedroom, one-bathroom homes are serving those transitioning out of the Salvation Army’s rehabilitation programs.

Students  participated in nearly every aspect of the project, including applying for the use permit; managing the public review process; creating estimates and schedules; coordinating with local utilities; and planning site safety and logistics. The estimated student contribution is valued at approximately $100,000.

Interim Provost and Vice President for Student Affairs Susan Elrod and Interim Dean of the College of ECC Ben Juliano addressed attendees at the ribbon cutting.

“Projects like this illustrate the importance of the university-community connection, and the impact we can have when we partner together,” Elrod said. “These student-led community service projects have become a tradition at CSU, Chico and are indicative of what we refer to as ‘The Chico Experience.’”

Since its inception in 2007, the Adult Rehabilitation Program has provided treatment services to an average of 200 individuals annually, and has successfully graduated more than 350 individuals.

—Sarah Langford, Public Affairs and Publications 

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