Turning Devistation into Delight and Ice Cream

On October 9th, 2017, horrific fires blazed through Northern California. Located in Sonoma County, the city of Santa Rosa lost entire communities and the amenities large cities depend on. A sizeable part of Roseland Collegiate Prep School (RCP)was burnt to the ground, leaving a traumatic and devastating weight on staff, students, families, and the community. A temporary location, used previously by a sister school was established as their new campus.

Nancy Ballard, founder and Executive Director of 501c3 non profit Rooms That Rock 4 Chemo (www.roomsthatrock4chemo.org) wanted to help in the rebuilding and recovery of the fire victims. A friend told her about RCP and she gave them a call. What she learned was the new temporary facility was in a warehouse with no window and was completely purple - 100% purple. Located in the of middle of a turf gang, (the blues and the reds) purple was a safe color, but not the colors of RCP. The kids hated it! She realized it was above the expertise of her volunteers and started asking around the community for help in making this school a beloved home for the students.

“I wasn’t sure it was that big of a deal – I just knew there had to be someone that could help these kids.”

On April 7th, Nancy Ballard helped organize the gift of transforming the rooms with a simple change of color with the help and donations from several Sonoma County businesses - Cutting Edge Painting in Windsor donated an entire day to paint the hallways in their school a fabulous teal blue, wiping out the depressing dark purple that negated any turf affiliations as it was a combination of the blue and the reds.

Christopherson Builders donated all the paint and material necessary to make this dream come true for the kids. I simply offered moral support while keeping them company and watching the paint dry.

It was during this time, I met two students and spoke to them about their experiences during the fire and what they hoped for in their future. Both had been evacuated during the fire for days and didn’t know what they would come home to. Allowed to evacuate and save only what they could carry, Hugo took a photo of his Grandmother who recently passed. He wanted to take his goldfish but was told it held on value. Helping his Dad load the TV into the car, he hid is goldfish and promised he’d come back for it.

And he did.

"Everything's purple," senior Ramiro S. noted. "It's not really our color." Sanchez was not exaggerating. Everything in their new home was purple: the walls, the doors, the trim. Purple, of course, was the school color of RUP. RCP's colors are blue and green.

"This is not good," senior Hugo P. said. "It did not make me feel good."

Roseland College Prep in Santa Rosa, CA, is our 21st project and first complete due to the fires in Sonoma County in October. Over the weekend, Cutting Edge Painting in Windsor donated a day to paint the halls and walls a fabulous teal blue, wiping out the depressing dark purple that negated any turf affiliations as it was a combination of the blue and the reds. Christopherson Builders donated all the materials, and I added moral support while watching the paint dry.

On Monday morning, I stood in the entrance to watch the kids flock in. They had been on Spring Break for a week and had no idea this transformation was taking place. I wanted to note their expressions, hopefully delighted, and listen to opinions, hopefully all good, when they saw their new, cool school colors on the walls.

I approached a group of middle schoolers and asked their opinion. Not big fans it turned out. Some liked the purple better; one student said it looked like a “kindergarten classroom”. That’s when I knew I got it right.

…. because I know where the happiest place on earth is.

It is not Disneyland or any other amusement park. It is, KINDERGARTEN! I know this from volunteering in my granddaughter’s kindergarten class every Monday. So, in a related sort of way, Roseland College Prep will now be considered, at least in my books, as one of the happiest places on earth.

And to be fair, the majority love, love, love the interior of their building painted in their school colors, not the leftover colors from a school that no longer uses that facility. Sounds like a happy place to me.

© 2018 by Nancy Ballard.

Branding by Bianca Broos.

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