Day of Caring – California Parent Institute

Last week Firma Design Group was honored to participate in the local Day of Caring Event! While volunteering went on throughout the county, FDG employee, Steve Kovanis, dedicated his morning to helping install drought tolerant landscaping & irrigation at the California Parent Institute location. We were delighted to be a part of this project from the design and planning phase all the way through the implementation of our designs. We love helping out in the community and are honored to be mentioned in the Press Democrat article posted below (and also found here at Press Democrat Article)




Wearing bright orange T-shirts and armed with paint brushes, garden and power tools, brooms and mops, a corps of 1,200 volunteers fanned out across Sonoma County on Wednesday for the local United Way’s massive Day of Caring event.

At 50 different locations, many of them nonprofit organizations, the volunteers from 30 local companies and groups as well as government employees donated their time to paint walls, erect fences, spread mulch, install drought-resistant plants, and clean creeks, trails and residential streets.

“I brought my team out today to give back to the community,” said Daryl Schmidt, manager of manufacturing and test engineering at L-3 Sonoma EO, an aerospace and defense engineering company that contributed a half-dozen employees to the annual effort.

Many of the volunteers participated in a ceremonial kickoff at the Sonoma County administration headquarters in Santa Rosa at about 8 a.m. After the rally, the volunteers quickly dispersed to various projects throughout the county.

At the newly expanded offices of the California Parent Institute, or CPI, a force of more than 60 volunteers rooted about 500 drought-resistant plants, laid 1,500 feet of drip irrigation tubing and spread about 31 cubic yards of fragrant redwood mulch.

The project consisted of general landscaping and a new garden for CPI’s New Directions school for troubled kids and the Parent Education Center. The project, which CPI said would have otherwise cost up to $20,000, cost the nonprofit group only about $5,000 for materials and prep work.

“We would not be able to do a project like this without volunteers,” said CPI spokeswoman Tiffani Montgomery.

Montgomery said the giving goes beyond those who volunteered their labor. She said Firma Design Group provided landscape design and on-site supervision, while the plants and other landscaping materials were donated by Santa Rosa area companies Emirsa Gardens, California Flora Nursery, United Forestry and Driwater.

In the past two years, CPI expanded into the metal warehouse structure across from its original offices at the site. The building, formerly a tile warehouse and showroom, now is home to parents and kids learning new life skills.

“With all the new landscaping, it’s going to feel a little less industrial,” Montgomery said.

About 30 employees from Sonoma Raceway were at work on the CPI project. The raceway, which has participated in the annual volunteer event for more than a decade, also sent employees to the Sonoma Valley Teen Center.

“It’s just a really great way to leave a lasting impact on some of the nonprofits in our community,” said Sonoma Raceway spokeswoman Diana Brennan.

The event, which launches United Way’s charitable fundraising season, also gave those who benefit from local nonprofits the opportunity to show their appreciation.

Reymundo Sandoval, 17, and Kyle Jones, 24, are both leaders in Youth Connections, a high school diploma and workforce development program run by Community Action Partnership.

“We’re just out here trying to make this place look beautiful,” said Sandoval, who along with Jones was lending a hand at the CPI site.

Jason Carter, program manager of Youth Connections, said volunteer work is a big part of the program.

“We want them to give back to the community that supports them reaching their college and career goals,” Carter said.

Other organizations that benefited from volunteer work Wednesday included the Redwood Food Bank, the Earle Baum Center of the Blind, Friends House, CERES, Catholic Charities, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Santa Rosa, Russian Riverkeeper, Food for Thought and the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter.

As in previous years, one of the biggest participants in the Day of Caring was Keysight Technologies, formerly Agilent. With 400 employees out at 26 different sites, Keysight supplied nearly a third of the total volunteer roster. Another large batch came from the county of Sonoma and city of Santa Rosa, which together contributed about 300 employees to the effort.

“This is one event that our employees really love,” said Jeff Webber, a spokesman for Keysight.

At Samuel L. Jones Hall, a homeless shelter in Santa Rosa, Keysight employees took part in the facility’s biggest one-day cleaning event.

The work included touch-up painting, scrubbing of dining tables, reorganizing of food and linen storage areas and tidying up the library.

Val Peterson, an electrical engineer for Keysight, found himself cleaning a shelter hallway with a rotating floor buffer. Peterson quickly mastered the task.

“I haven’t buffed floors since I was in college, but it’s fun,” he said, adding that his participation as a volunteer is part of a culture at Keysight of giving back to the community.