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  • José Luis Villegas /

    Wakilli Bennett, 12, left, and Cristofer Munos, 7, discuss favorite leisure activities while taking a fun fitness survey Friday at the Roberts Family Development Center. The center is this year's recipient of a Project Inspire grant from the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce.

  • José Luis Villegas /

    Teen coordinator Richard Johnson high-fives Brianay Andrews, 12, during a work exercise Friday at Roberts Family Development Center in North Sacramento.

  • José Luis Villegas /

    Elliot Davis, left, the fourth- and fifth-grade teen leader at the Roberts center, congratulates Cesar Gonzalez, 8, on a recent test grade.

Cathie Anderson: Businesses unravel the power of a giving circle

Published: Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013 - 1:54 pm

If you don't know the explosive power of a giving circle, don't feel bad. Josh Leachman, Michael Smith and Randy Sater didn't understand it either until 2011.

That's the year that Sater, as outgoing chairman of the board of the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce, announced that the chamber had begun engaging business leaders in volunteerism and philanthropy.

It's called Project Inspire, online at Let's see if you think it lives up to its name.

Project Inspire asks local residents to donate $250 or $1,000 to a philanthropic fund. The Sacramento Region Community Foundation invests and manages the money, and each year donors vote on a local nonprofit that will receive a grant: $10,000 to the River City Food Bank in 2011; $10,000 to Soil Born Farms in 2012; and $15,000 to Roberts Family Development Center just last night.

Not impressed yet? Let Sater, Smith and Leachman finish their stories.

"The River City Food Bank project was a huge eye-opener," said Smith, who like Sater and Leachman is a Project Inspire donor and an employee of Teichert. "I thought, '$10,000, we're going to paint and maybe put some partitions in a building.' I had no idea, and I don't even think the food bank had any idea of how grand this could be. You got everybody in a room, and you started talking about opportunities, and everybody got excited, and it came right to fruition."

That would be $265,000 worth of fruition. The initial grant turned out to be only the beginning for donors, who got a clear picture of River City's work during the selection process. They made additional in-kind contributions and cash to help get the food bank into a building at 1800 28th St. They also volunteered time.

"How could I ever accomplish that?" Sater asked. "I don't know about you, but I can't write a check for $265,000."

So, $340,000 would also be out of the question. That's how much Project Inspire and Leadership Sacramento raised in in-kind contributions and cash to build a 200-seat amphitheater at Soil Born Farms in Rancho Cordova. The outdoor classroom will be unveiled in May. At the Roberts center in North Sacramento, funds will go toward creating a space where children can study with teen interns to mentor them.

Leachman said a number of donors continued the nonprofit work they started with Project Inspire because they connected with an agency during the selection process or while volunteering.

He also sees a shift in business networking.

"In the past, the typical kind of business mixer was, 'Let's go have a cocktail and mix it up and make business connections,' " he said. "I think these types of volunteer endeavors are replacing that."

Wait, there's more …

Over at Williams+Paddon Architects in Roseville, principal Naaz Alikhan said the firm is seeing an increase in plans for new buildings and renovations. That seems to be true for many firms in the industry. The American Institute of Architects' semiannual report forecasted 5 percent growth in spending on nonresidential construction in 2013. "People are still cautious … but that's to be expected due to uncertainty," Alikhan said.

The firm recently worked with longtime Roseville-based client SureWest to spruce up its old offices at 200 Vernon St. because 300 employees will be returning there from a building on Industrial Avenue.

Internationally, Williams+Paddon continues to be in demand in China where it's working on two golf clubhouse projects. Principal Terry Green said the firm hopes to expand this year to South America with its clubhouse designs.

Brewmaster's debut

Everything has come together for New Helvetia Brewing Co., and co-founder Dave Gull will formally introduce his brewmaster, Brian Cofresi, at a grand opening from 4 to 10 p.m. Friday at 1730 Broadway.

"He's a professional brewmaster with 15 or 16 years experience at River City Brewing Co.," Gull said. "In fact, he's still brewing at River City."

At the grand opening, expect food trucks, live music and plenty of memorabilia from Buffalo Brewing Co., the company whose legend inspired Gull. Cofresi already has created Fresh Hop Lager, Homeland Stout and Thunderbeast IPA, but he'll add a saison, a märzen and a red wheat ale for the grand opening.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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