Food closet gets dolled-up floor to stand on

Much-needed refinishing happens after 70 years
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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An Auburn company is hoping to help keep a local aid facility thriving by giving it a basic necessity: a floor to stand on. California Hardwood Producers is donating the materials needed to refinish the Auburn Interfaith Food Closet’s floors, and work could be completed this weekend. Bob Simon, facilities manager for the food closet, said resident Shawn Bell helped facilitate the project and is refinishing the floor with Simon. “The gentleman who is doing the job is one of our clients, and he feels obligated because we have helped him, and he wants to give back,” Simon said. Simon said the project includes about 1,300 square feet of floor in three rooms. Work began over Christmas weekend, and one room was completely finished. This weekend Simon said he and Bell plan to complete the other two rooms, which could take up to three days. Simon said the donation was greatly needed, because the food closet couldn’t pay for it. “I asked Shawn, ‘What would this cost?’ and he said, ‘About $3,000,’” Simon said. “I think (the donation) is great. That means we don’t have to pay to do it, because our budget’s not designed for that.” The floors also haven’t seen any care in decades, Simon said. “We are sanding all the old stuff that has probably been there for 70 years,” he said. “The food closet has been there for at least 10 years, and I’m sure a lot of people have said ‘Gee, this looks bad. Can you do something about it?’” Dave Parmenter, owner of California Hardwood Producers, said Simon approached him about a year ago and talked with him about the project, but none of the contractors Parmenter suggested would donate the labor. When Bell spoke with Parmenter about doing the work, Parmenter said he was happy to donate the materials. “When this came about I said, ‘He should be giving back to the community, the community’s given him so much,’” Parmenter said. California Hardwood had a fire that nearly ruined their entire building about 10 years ago, and Parmenter said the community helped the company get back on its feet. “After our fire we were way negative,” he said. “So, community support came in (something as simple as) just a phone. Somebody brought in a phone and a fax. We are thankful we are still here … and we try to give back as much as we can.” Parmenter said he knows people who use the food closet, and he thinks sanitation is also a good reason to refinish the floors. “They need to protect the food … because who knows what was on that floor,” he said. “I just think businesses, even though we are all struggling, we have just got to keep giving. I’m a believer in good karma, and if you give some times you will get something in return.” Sandy Bassett, president of the food closet board, said she thinks it’s important to find ways for clients to give back when they can. “I think it’s just fantastic,” Bassett said. “We have a lot of clients who want to help and give something back, but there are not a lot of ways they can. This is the first time we have had one of our clients do something this major. I’m excited about how it looks … how clean. It looks like somebody cares about the food closet. We are just really excited.” Bassett said she agrees about the sanitation issue, because the building, which the food closet leases through the county, was built in the 1940s. “It is a benefit,” she said. “Sanitation is really important. It is something we have to watch for.” Reach Bridget Jones at