From Rags to Ritzes at Motel 6 Prices
Once upon a time, there was a nonprofit agency (SCS) that was losing its donated office and storage spaces and needed to find a new home…and a lot of money to pay for it. We looked for empty lots to build on but couldn’t find one for sale located anywhere near public transportation. Finally, AMD, one of the companies we approached, offered to donate a 3.26 acre parcel of land. It was too big for SCS alone, so we formed a new nonprofit entity with three other agencies to build a nonprofit center on the property. Jane Vaughan, the dynamic developer with Menlo Equities (pictured above), donated her time and skills to handle all the negotiations and to develop the initial plans. After almost a year of planning, we were ready to seek funding—just as the market crashed. The potential funders told us to come back 18 to 24 months after the market recovered. As SCS would be homeless by then, AMD offered the property to SCS to sell in order to purchase a building.
Jane helped SCS select a team of commercial real estate brokers—Jeff Houston, Steve Horton, and Greg Davies of CPS—who offered to work for half commission. Finding a building over 5,000 sq. ft., under 25,000 sq. ft., and anywhere near public transportation was another challenge, but they talked the owners into selling the building at 725 Kifer. Jane then got “her team” together to handle the renovation work—Russ Nichols of RMW Architecture and Interiors, who donated his services, and Glenn Gabel of Webcor Builders, who worked at cost. Jane and Glenn got many subcontractors to do the same such as Rosendin Electric and Quality Striping. She recruited Jim Fowler, an attorney at Bingham McCutchen, to handle all legal matters for us pro bono. Jane continued to supervise all contract, legal, land, and environmental concerns, donating hundreds of hours of her time worth over $300,000.
The building is large enough to hold all our food, supplies, and three meeting/activity rooms. The building has small private offices, much better for client confidentiality but too small for our 30 year old furniture or for the many excess cubicles we were offered. So Mike Caplan of KBM Workspace came to the rescue, offering SCS furniture at 2% over cost and free design, delivery, and installation. Mike recommended Mike Patton of Monterey Carpets who helped us select commercial grade carpet and flooring at greatly reduced prices. Mike Patton then said that his installer, Si Baxley of D. S. Baxley Flooring, had carpet and tile left over from another job which brought the price below what it cost to carpet or tile a standard four-bedroom home.
Stars and Stripes Telecom had helped us select a phone system at great savings, a five-month old system repossessed from a dot.com, to replace our virtually dead one. They advised us that moving into a new building is hard enough without having to deal with a new phone system. They moved the system that’s been in place for several months for free and wired the building at a substantial discount. There was just one little remaining problem. The land sale would not occur until after the building purchase, so the City of Sunnyvale agreed to give SCS a bridge loan at whatever interest rate the funds would have earned the City. Pat Plant of the Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church arranged for volunteers to move tons of food stored in the 4,000 sq. ft. Town Center store to the new building, and James Vincenzini lined up volunteers from the Sunnyvale School District to drive district trucks.
To put the icing on the cake, Fry’s Electronics donated new computers, flat screen monitors, and printers to SCS. The Sobrato Family Foundation gave a substantial matching grant to offset SCS share of building costs. Thanks to so many extremely generous people, over 90% of the $3 million project costs has been donated. This long story took over five years, but AMD steadfastly stuck by its commitment to SCS. Special thanks to everyone at AMD for making the dream come true: Tom McCoy, Mike Woollems, Craig Garcia, Shaun Moore, Reed Content, Brenda Hendricksen, Tammy Bigelow, along with former AMDers Ben Anixter and Dyan Chan. As fairy tales end, SCS staff, volunteers, and clients are living very happily ever after. One senior client said, “You’re already depressed when you have to ask someone for help. Coming to a place that’s so bright and cheerful with caring people let’s you keep your dignity and gives you hope.”
Our Generous Building Donors
SCS Contact Info
Sunnyvale Community Services
725 Kifer Street
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
Hours: Monday - Friday
9:00am - 11:30am
1:00pm - 4:00pm