CSU, Chico News

Catalyst Blitz Build a Major Volunteer Effort Involving Public, Private Partnerships

Date: 01-14-2010

Joe Wills
Public Affairs
Christina Pantera
Student Project Manager

After volunteering to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina and the 2008 Concow Fire, students from California State University, Chico’s College of Engineering, Computer Science and Construction Management have a more ambitious community service project for 2010: build two homes in just nine days for victims of domestic violence.

In planning stages for nine months, the 2010 CSU, Chico Annual Winter Community Service Project involves more than 200 volunteers, 43 industry suppliers, subcontractors and sponsors and financial support from the Chico Redevelopment Agency.

Starting at 6 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 16, volunteers will have until Sunday, Jan. 24, to meet their goal of getting the two 840-square-foot homes completed.

The University’s partnership with the City of Chico on behalf of Catalyst Domestic Violence Services on the project will fill a vital need in helping victims of domestic violence become self-sufficient and re-build life skills.

“It has been a wonderful partnership with the University and the City of Chico,” said Catalyst Domestic Violence Services Executive Director Anastacia Snyder. “Having transitional housing as a component of our program has been a dream of ours, and to be able to work with the students and the City of Chico to realize that dream for our clients is exciting.”

The two transitional housing units will be adjacent to the new Catalyst Housing Facility on Ivy Street. The residents of the two houses will come from either the Catalyst shelter on site or through referrals from Catalyst’s counseling programs.

Media please note: On Saturday, Jan. 16, at 8 a.m., there will be a wall-raising ceremony to celebrate the beginning of the project. Participating in the ceremony are CSU, Chico Provost Sandra Flake, Student Leader Christina Pantera, Catalyst Executive Director Anastacia Snyder, City of Chico City Manager David Burkland, Mayor Ann Schwab and the general contractor and industry advisors. The ceremony will take place on site at 1321 Ivy St. in Chico.

“Few student-led community service projects in the country are more ambitious, or more worthy, than the Catalyst Blitz Build taking place this month,” said CSU, Chico President Paul Zingg. “What our College of Engineering, Computer Science and Construction Management students have achieved, in partnership with other students and their faculty, the city and many industry experts and local businesses, may be unprecedented. Excellence in community service is a hallmark of Chico State, and the high quality of our construction management program is well known, but what these students are doing with each January project is remarkable and exemplary in every way. Building on three years of service to the recovery of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and the post-fire rebuilding of Concow last year, this project is all about applied learning, civic engagement and generosity—habits that underscore the best of Chico State.”

Along with the challenge of building two houses in nine days, the 20-person student leadership team, under the guidance of Construction Management faculty members James O’Bannon and David Shirah, is planning for the two units to be LEED-certified and meet stringent environmental building requirements.

Among the other special features of the project:

• An Industry Advisory Board made up of prominent area builders Gage Chrysler from Modern Building Inc, Pat Conroy of Conroy Construction Inc. and Howard Slater of Slater & Son Inc. has been advising the student leaders throughout the project. On Friday, Jan. 15, industry experts will present workshops to students on a variety of construction topics.

• Numerous other local and national entities are providing support in the form of materials, financial contributions and sweat equity. The Chico Association of Realtors donated $12,000 for tools and food to feed workers, and the Chico Noon Rotary Club is providing assistance in preparing and serving food at a celebration and key ceremony at the conclusion of the build on Sunday, Jan. 24. The Foor Foundation donated $10,000 for site control, transportation, tools and materials.

• In addition to contributions of time, money and materials from local builders, businesses and organizations, the project is supported by the Chico Redevelopment Agency, which will help Catalyst with $550,000 to support the construction of five homes developed for transitional housing.

• CSU, Chico students from departments outside of the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Construction Management have gotten involved in this year’s winter project. Approximately 40 students from CSU, Chico’s Nutrition and Food Science Association chapter will be preparing, cooking and serving three meals a day for the volunteers. In addition, College of Business students are working to furnish both of the homes as a class project.

• In addition to the approximately 160 CSU, Chico student workers on the project, other volunteers have come from throughout the community. For example, about 60 students at Northwest Lineman College in Oroville volunteered to erect utility poles for the homes at the site.

• The project will be using special dehumidification technology provided by Cleanrite-Buildrite for drying framing members, concrete and drywall, which will allow the drying time to be reduced drastically. This will allow texturing to quickly follow drywall finishing and painting to follow texturing. Another special feature of the project is that the concrete slab includes 20 percent fly ash and fiber reinforcement, and will have slightly exposed aggregate that will have a burnished and stain finish.

This week at the University Farm, approximately 50 students are prefabricating all of the walls for the homes, which will then be transported to the site. Prior to that, about 15 Concrete Industry Management students from CSU, Chico helped pour the foundation slabs for the housing units Dec. 5. Concrete and materials for the pour were provided by A&A Concrete Supply, and overall assistance was provided by CSU, Chico’s Concrete Industry Management Program, Slater and Son, Inc. and the City of Chico.

“The City of Chico has proven to be a phenomenal partner in the Blitz Build project,” said O’Bannon. “Officials have made every effort to be accommodating—providing timely inspection, technical project advice and support to the students through the project planning. This endeavor would have been impossible without their encouragement and assistance.”

“The city has a very strong relationship with the University that benefits us both greatly,” said Burkland. “To have students take the lead in building transitional housing for Catalyst is very special, and is one of many community service projects by Chico State students that make a difference in the lives of residents.”

During the blitz build, students, faculty, staff, advisors, local contractors and numerous other community volunteers will start construction activities at 6 a.m. and continue until 10 p.m. every night. Each shift will consist of 50 to 60 volunteers hammering, cutting and laboring to aid in the successful completion of two homes. A bus shuttle system will take volunteers to and from the Ivy Street site each day of the project.

Last January, approximately 100 CSU, Chico students built 13 storage sheds for victims of wildfires in the Concow area of Butte County. In three previous years, construction management students and some other student participants volunteered their time in January building homes in New Orleans and neighboring parts of Louisiana following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

CSU, Chico’s Construction Management program began offering classes to seven majors in 1978. The department now has over 670 students and is the largest in the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Construction Management and the fifth largest in the University. The 100-member 2009 graduating class was recruited by 120 construction companies that rank among the largest state, national and international builders of commercial and residential buildings, bridges and highways, and industrial projects.

Established in 1977, Butte County-based Catalyst is a nonprofit organization committed to serving the needs of all domestic violence victims and their children regardless of ethnicity, citizenship, language, religion, physical disabilities, sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status. Catalyst provides many support services including counseling, community education, a 24-hour crisis line and a shelter, which first opened in 1985.

Additional Contact Information:

Anastacia Snyder
Executive Director, Catalyst
Office: 530-343-7711
cell: 530-570-3345

Dave Burkland
City Manager
City of Chico