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Park

Coffey Strong Receives Kaiser Permanente Grant for Rebuilding of Neighborhood Park

Coffey Strong Receives Kaiser Permanente Grant for Rebuilding of Neighborhood Park

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

KAISER PERMANENTE DONATES $500,000 TO SUPPORT REBUILDING COFFEY NEIGHBORHOOD PARK

Santa Rosa, CA, Apr. 2, 2019 — Kaiser Permanente has donated $500,000 to rebuild the community park in the Coffey Park neighborhood. The 5.85-acre Coffey Neighborhood Park, which was a centerpiece for the Coffey Park neighborhood and surrounding area, was destroyed in the Tubbs Fire in October 2017.

“Not only does this park fit Kaiser Permanente’s preventive health strategy of active living, but it also is part of our fire recovery efforts to rebuild the health and vitality of our community” said Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Manager Alena Wall. “Kaiser Permanente is proud to support these local efforts.”

Coffey Strong, the City of Santa Rosa, and Santa Rosa Parks Foundation are working together to redevelop the park. As part of the predevelopment process, the City of Santa Rosa conducted surveys and engaged residents in listening sessions to ensure community input is included in the design. The local Rotary Club led a play structure design day for fourth graders from Coffey Park’s Shaeffer Charter School. The children recommended fire-resistant native plantings, a dog park, and innovative play structures such as a fire truck seesaw to recognize first responders.

“Coffey Strong is beyond thrilled to be the recipient of this wonderful grant. With the kindness and generosity of Kaiser Permanente our community will be able to rebuild our park faster and more beautiful. We cannot thank Kaiser enough,” said Jeff Okrepkie, Founder and President of Coffey Strong. “The ability to team public, private, and nonprofit to accomplish such an amazing feat is truly something all resilient communities should aspire to.”

Coffey Strong, Inc., is a neighborhood non-profit organization dedicated to helping residents rebuild their lives and homes in Coffey Park. The neighborhood park has been a cornerstone of recreational activity for the residents of the area for over 30 years. Its reconstruction will not only provide those recreational opportunities again, but also help in the healing process as residents rebuild their lives. The Coffey Park neighborhood park reconstruction is truly a community effort.

Coffey Park Neighborhood Park Master PlanFinal public comments on the Master Plan for the Park will be taken at the Santa Rosa City Council meeting on April 2, 2019, after which the Council is expected to make its final design decision. Reconstruction of the park is slated for completion in early 2020.

For more information on this joint effort, please visit Coffey Strong, City of Santa Rosa Parks and Recreation Department, and the Santa Rosa Parks Foundation.

 

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About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 12.2 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: kp.org/share.

Love Outreach group photo

Outpouring of Love from Local Youth in Coffey Park

Outpouring of Love from Local Youth in Coffey Park

People have always told us at Coffey Strong that recovering from the fires would be a marathon, not a sprint, and it would take many months or even years to restore our neighborhood and our park. What we have done, and have yet to do to for rebuilding is overwhelming. But all of us have received blessings along the way too, as our local community rallied to help, bringing their hearts and hands, talents and resources to help us to that finish line.  Yesterday was one of those hope-filled days where we were on the receiving end of so much kindness.

When local high school students Turner Welch, Katie Todd, Rene Tolson and Elena Dyer returned to their school this year, they had a vision for making community service projects a new part of their high school Christian Club activities schedule. But realizing that their clubs at Maria Carrillo and Windsor High were small and had a limited capacity to serve, they decided to reach out to other high school clubs to create a larger organization, a group they call the Love Outreach Christian Club.  “We came together with a mission and a passion for the community and a desire to share God’s love.” said Todd. They knew that by coming together they could achieve so much more. And they started it off with their first project– a clean up day in our fire-ravaged neighborhood, Coffey Park.

Love Outreach Christian Club leaders and event supervisors Turner Welch, Katie Todd, Rene Tolson and Elena Dyer

Using their connections at local churches and social media to spread the word, they never imagined how this idea would grow so quickly to bring in 250 volunteers from as far north as Ukiah, representing at least 8 schools.  They welcomed anyone who could help to pitch-in, not just Christian Clubs or church groups, but any person who was interested in helping out. For example, more than 40 seventh and eighth graders from nearby Mark West Charter School, were there to volunteer, representing a quarter of that small middle school’s student body, and many adults came to participate as well.

It took time, organization and resources to prepare for the event.  They raised $800 to cover the cost of food to provide lunch and
water for the volunteers, and get supplies like debris collection bags.  Teen organizers met with Coffey Strong board members Bill Northcroft and Tricia Woods several times to define the scope of the project and figure out what tools, materials and resources were needed for the day.  According to Woods, the kids simply gathered the information and then set to work making the preparations themselves. Local builder Shook and Waller provider heavy machinery to facilitate big cleanup efforts, and Recology donated the dumpsters. Another donor provided $3000 worth of mulch, and many others pitched in with tools, wheelbarrows, tables, chairs and more.

Bill Northcroft
Coffey Strong board member Bill Northcroft helped teens prioritize projects for the volunteer day

The first priority was to clean up the area along Dogwood Drive and the park, which was still littered with burned and twisted heaps of metal debris, overgrown organic waste and trash. Neighbors have been complaining to the city about this area for months, and now was a great opportunity to remove the mess. The second priority was to clean up the intersection of Coffey Lane and Hopper Avenue, what many are now referring to now as the ‘Entrance to Coffey Park’.  Northcroft has been leading an effort to install new permanent landscaping on those corners, but until the funding for that project can be raised, the area needed deep cleaning and sprucing up.  The teens cleared the area, weeded, laid down mulch and even planted a few flowers near the newly installed neighborhood sign on the northwest corner. The facelift to this area comes just in time, as this location will be the site of a 1-year Remembrance Gathering for Coffey Strong, scheduled for 7 PM on Tuesday, October 9.

Adults from local churches and Coffey Park neighbors were there pitching in to help, under the direction of the teens. Kerry Lane neighbor Tom Fellbaum helped unload wheelbarrow loads of green waste into a 30 yard dumpster, and neighbor Lyn Johnson grabbed a rake and helped clean up along Mocha Lane. Folks like Travis Oglesby offered the use of his pick up truck and neighbor Steve Rahmn helped make runs to the dump with debris. Other neighbors felt compelled to come and simply say thank you to the kids who organized and spent their Saturday volunteering. Debbie Bratburg, an elementary school teacher from Windsor who lost her home directly across from the park wanted to speak with the organizers and let them know how grateful she is, and how hopeful and proud she is of these young people.

 

dogwood drive clean up
Top priority was to clean up the perimeter of the park along Dogwood Drive

 

The teens say this is just the beginning, and that they are planning community service projects both large and small in the year ahead–from River Clean ups to food bank volunteering. They look forward to more opportunities for young people to take the lead for positive change in the world. “We want to set aside our differences, forget about conflicts, and work together to rebuild our community after the tragedy of last October.” said organizer Tolson.

Coffey Strong is made stronger and more hopeful after days like this!  Thank you to everyone who contributed and worked so hard to make this day possible! #coffeystong #strongertogether #lovefully

How You Can Help

Coffey Strong is working hard to bring back our neighborhood, including our lovely local park.  It will take millions to restore, since all the irrigation and play equipment was destroyed by the intense heat of the fires.  If you are able, please help us with a donation to the park rebuilding fund or other projects from Coffey Strong!  Information on how to contribute is on our website’s fundraising page.