Our View: Bank, club a great example of community

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Lawmakers and business leaders talk about the need for public-private partnerships when neither — government or business — has the political or financial will to go it alone. Then there are those who just do it. Auburn is a better community today for one such partnership that came together quietly, but was delivered with a big bang. Last week, Community 1st Bank lived up to its name. Big time. At a grand opening event that could have been all about the bank’s move to Downtown Auburn, it chose to share the occasion with the Boys & Girls Club of Auburn. In a couple of weeks, the club will receive the keys to a 10,675-square-foot building it purchased on the bank’s sprawling campus. Once renovated, the structure will be the club’s new home, and an adjacent warehouse will be converted into a gym. For bank CEO Mark Lund, the partnership with the club is a perfect example of what a community bank is all about — building community. Securing assets and providing personal and business loans can be gratifying, but so is putting people to work. Moving the bank’s administrative center from Roseville to Auburn brought 22 full-time jobs to town, with the potential for more as Community 1st leases other buildings at the site. Some 150 jobs vanished when Well Fargo purchased Placer Sierra Bank in May 2007 and closed down the site. “We stepped up to the plate that was provided us in this economic environment,” Lund said at the grand opening. But building community also means strengthening the social core. Long past capacity at its High Street clubhouse, the Boys & Girls Club has searched for a larger, permanent home for years. A building site at the Auburn School Park Preserve property was deemed too expensive after months of study. Recently, a plan to move the club to Regional Park in North Auburn was met with resistance, critics claiming the clubhouse would be a non-conforming use within the flight paths for Auburn Municipal Airport. Just when one door was closing, another was opening with the bank. Negotiations began last year, and took place right up until a few days before last week’s announcement. Now, thanks to the hard work and financial commitment of a major gifts team, the club’s future is secured and hundreds — if not thousands — of Auburn-area youth can grow and develop in a safe place. More needs to be done, and Auburn can step up to the plate as Community 1st did. The club is still seeking critical donations to pay off debt and fund two years of operations in the larger space, so a cash or check is always a great way to help. If sweat equity is more your style, consider donating your time. A volunteer facilities team, along with the Placer County Contractors Association, plans to help renovate the clubhouse, but the effort could take more hands. A Project Auburn-type community volunteer day could be just what’s needed to make the club open and accessible in a quicker time frame. If the call goes out, consider answering the call. Auburn is blessed to have community partners who believe our youth matter enough to make the sacrifice – and who believe that putting the community first is more than in name only.