Dedicated to serve and remember those who have served the nation in various wars through the generations, the Veterans Memorial Building of San Ramon Valley -- a downtown landmark for more than 85 years -- continues to prepare for its grand reopening early next year, nearly two years after renovations began to restore and modernize the building.
But donations are still needed, and necessary, to see the $8 million project to completion, explained Danville Mayor Karen Stepper The town committed to $6 million, but the rest has needed to come from donations.
"$1.1 million has already been raised," Stepper said. "But, we need to raise another $1.4 million to reach our goal of $2.5 million."
Stepper, who serves on the board of directors for the Veterans Memorial Building and who is working with the Tri-Valley Community Foundation in spearheading the fundraising drive, hopes that a big fundraising push will come out of a pre-opening gala event scheduled for Dec. 3 at the Danville Town Hall. Donors supporting the renovations who pledge $1,000 or more can attend the event, which begins at 3:30 p.m.
"We are expecting to complete the project during the first quarter of 2012," Stepper added. "Crews are putting in a lot of hours, even on weekends, to get the job done."
Much work still needs to be completed. All of the building's solid-wood flooring needs to be removed and replaced, the interior walls need structural improvements and electrical wiring still needs to begin. Stepper says "the finishing touches" will follow furnishings, provided by a grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which was secured by Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-11).
The renovations began in July 2010, and the original plan was that all work would be completed within two years. The schedule of improvements and renovation is on track, however, it is the funding that is sorely needed to complete the project early next year.
"We need more fundraising," Stepper said. "If Danville is a part of your heart, if you're a part of the community in some way, big or small, we need your help. We are renovating a building that is a memorial to our nation's Veterans, but we are also upgrading it for future generations.
At the Dec. 3 gala, there will be a live auction, and among many items, attendees can bid on an aerial tour of the Bay Area, courtesy of a 1972 Huey helicopter. It is the same helicopter which flew over Danville during the town's remembrance marking the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
As of now, the building renovation's major donors have been the Dornsise Foundation, which donated $100,000, and Headco, which donated $75,000 for the purchase of new kitchen appliances and equipment.
Area rotary club organizations have also provided financial support, including $75,000 given by the Danville Sycamore Valley Rotary Club.
There has also been a $200,000 donation provided by an anonymous donor. But, there is a stipulation: donations must reach the $2.5 million mark, or the $200,000 is put into jeopardy.
Stepper said an additional $500,000 needs to be raised for an endowment fund.
Since 1978, the Veterans Memorial Building has also served as Danville's senior center facility.
"We are still looking for people who would like to leave their legacy on a Donor Wall, or by having a room in the building named after them," Stepper added.
When completed, the facility will include three large meeting rooms, allowing for three separate groups or organizations to meet in the building at the same time. It will be available for all community and civic groups.
"You could have Veterans holding an awards ceremony in one room, a Rotary Club having a luncheon in another room, and the Girl Scouts meeting in another," Stepper said.
"We know the Veterans Memorial Building will be a center point of the East Bay," added David Rice, president and chief executive officer of the Tri-Valley Community Foundation. "We are looking for generous donors to make this dream a reality.