Posts Tagged ‘alma project’

Alma Project: Work Clothes Closet

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Hi everyone! Today I’m excited to share another project I’m working on in my local community. Long time readers know over the years we’ve donated our time and raised money for our local charity of choice, the Committee on the Shelterless (COTS) and we’re at it again this fall. Years ago we dubbed our efforts the “Alma Project” after the first house we adopted and the name stuck.

COTS has helped thousands get back under a roof of their own and provides almost 350 beds every night. The kitchen serves over 124,000 meals a year and delivers over 750,000 pounds of food annually, and the award-winning program has helped thousands to rebuild their lives.

The latest project is one for a community Work Clothes Closet/Store to help complete the Work Ready training program. Once the clients in the program are trained in a trade, skill, or service, the new COTS Work Clothes Closet will provide them with clothing to reenter the workforce.

The project received some local press a few weeks ago…

local paper feature

It’s hard to read so here are the important points…

Training and attire are the biggest self confidence boosters for people reentering the workforce but purchasing clothing is beyond the income level of COTS clients. The Work Clothes Closet is the latest space transformation I’m working on with a team, it will provide not just professional attire for men and women, but trade clothing too (chefs, construction, etc.).

A local commercial property owner generously donated downtown space to serve as the Work Clothes Closet and house the attire for the program. No money will change hands, this store is run on donations, and by the COTS volunteers, and the good will of the people !

Here’s a peek at one corner of the space when we started a few weeks ago, it’s 2,200 square feet so there is much to do including building two dressing rooms, painting the ceiling, walls, and floors, and constructing garment racks, shelves, and display cases.

cots work closet 1

A local volunteer contractor has already prepped the sheet rocked walls with topping compound so we’re ready for the next step which is primer and paint on the walls (pale gray) and a porch and floor paint for the cement floors (navy blue).

We’re going with an industrial style for the space, working with the exposed pipes and incorporating garment racks and rustic shelves in that style, like these.

garment racks shelves


Thus far, Lowe’s has donated building supplies for garment racks and shelves. Thank you Lowes !  lowes building supplies Glidden is donating paint for the walls, ceilings, and cement floors. Thank you Glidden!

glidden donated paint

World Market is donating gift cards to purchase light fixtures, scarves, and jewelry, we’re excited to pull this space together!

cp world market donations

If you’re a brand or store, large or small, that would like to contribute email me at centsationalgirl[at] This Work Clothes Closet project is an unfunded  COTS project that relies on donations and volunteers so if you’d like to help out we’d appreciate it!

What we need is LABOR, so if you’re local, you can come on by this Saturday between 11 and 4 to help paint that would be wonderful but note you need to fill out a quick application first (screening required) and email me to let me know you’re coming at centsationalgirl[at] so I can share the downtown Petaluma address.

If you’re handy with power tools, we will be building garment racks and shelving these two weekends: Nov 15th and Dec 6th so we could use help with those projects too.

We have no need for clothing right now, we have garment donations, and we’re relying on some local vendors for trade clothing and boots. We do need to raise money to build the partitions to create two dressing rooms so if you’re inclined, donate an amount to the Alma Project via the PayPal button below, or you can or send a check via snailmail to my PO Box made out to “The Alma Project”.

We’re planning on a December Open House so I’ll take pictures of all the projects and share the big reveal then ! ..


Alma Project Update + New House Inspiration

Monday, June 9th, 2014

So there’s good news and bad news on the housing front. Let’s start with the bad, or shall I say, the disappointing setback. You may recall I was given the task in February to furnish a house for our local COTS (our charitable efforts we dub the Alma Project) and I embraced the challenge and off I went thrifting for the cause snagging furniture to use for the project. Then two months ago, I was asked to hold off on any further improvements because the city that owns the house was all of a sudden considering selling it and four others instead of extending the long term leases to the transitional housing program.

There were many meetings and pleas before the city council to not sell and to continue to foster the program which transitions people from homelessness back to society. Two weeks ago we were told despite the protests that the city decided to sell so the disheartening news is the houses are no longer available for the program. I’m really saddened by the situation, but we’re determined to find other houses from private donors to lease to program, I’ll keep you posted if any land in our lap. Many of those thrift store purchases I’ll be selling and donating the proceeds to COTS but two I’ll keep for …

dashed line

…the good news, at least for us, which is that after a long and arduous search, Matt and I found a house to buy and last week it became ours. First I should say to those who have asked, no we are not moving!  We love our current house and its location. I have no intention of redecorating it, I love it the way it is, and we have absolutely no plans to leave. This is the tale of our search for a second home to upgrade and renovate.

We’ve always loved architecture and remodeling, we spend a lot of our time discussing how to improve homes, spaces, and yards, and what we’d do if given the opportunity with a particular home which is why we set out to buy another house. I haven’t taken official “before” pics of the home we bought yet, I will soon, so meanwhile here’s our story mixed in with some inspirational images for the upcoming remodel.

global inspired entry

So as you know Matt is a real estate appraiser and broker and together we have fixed up houses and condos within our means since the 2000s and even expanded and remodeled our primary residence beginning in 2006. But after the recession hit it was game over on investing for awhile while we waited for the market to stabilize. Real estate has been volatile for years, hitting rock bottom everywhere, but now in many communities the market is showing signs of appreciation.

We haven’t bought real property since before recession, we decided to wait instead and save our money and invest when the time was better for us. We paid off our debt and started placing money into a savings account every month.

tiled staircase christine markatos

Of course it’s important to have diverse investments but we love real estate the most for the simple reason you can fix it up, put your personal stamp on it, and then sell it for profit in a good market or hold on to it as part of an investment portfolio. It’s what we do best, he’s the appraiser, I’m the decorator, both of us are DIYers and together we decide what fixtures and finishes work best in the renovation process.

We almost bought a house in Salt Lake City with my sister last year, but then they found one on their own, we were thrilled for them, so we turned our attention back home to California. And for six months we tried to purchase real estate in our own backyard.

*Ahem* That was maddening, to put it lightly. In much of California, it’s a seller’s market again. We looked at over 50 fixer upper homes for sale in our budget and made multiple offers on homes within 20 miles of our current home. None of our offers were ever accepted, we were outbid every time by all cash buyers and we just couldn’t compete.

It was extremely frustrating process that we endured for months. As nice as the weather is out here, what’s true is that California real estate compared to the rest of the nation ranks as the least affordable.

stylish loggia southern living

So in order to buy, we had to change strategies.

Read the rest of this entry »