Friday, July 31, 2009

Construction Photos from 7/31/09

We are amazed at the progress of the construction... take a look at these photos. It's really starting to take shape.

The following is a message from Rev. Spiwo Xapile, from the JL Zwane Centre, our partner in South Africa:
Watching the developments on the new Open Arms building is wonderful. We are very happy for your organization that has walked all the way with us for so long. It must be exciting to see it not by looking at pictures but being there and going through the experience of feeling it. I cannot imagine the mood that goes with seing it develop into reality. It is happening and you can point to it. That is great. I also know the responsibility that goes with having it. All our best to everyone at Open Arms!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Talking Photos: From the Bottom Up

Contributed by volunteer and donor, Martha Mockus.

Have you seen the new building site lately? Construction is moving along swiftly, and at this point the footings and foundation walls are complete! I spoke with members of the design team from DJR Architecture and they explained some of the new building’s features that are now visible. In the photographs from July 10, you can see many of the concrete footings, including those that outline the lovely curve of the building’s main entrance. Footings support the foundation walls, and are dug deep into the ground to protect the building from frost.

The foundation walls are made of concrete block, and wrap the basement. As a kitchen volunteer, I am especially excited about the expanded basement space. While basements are not usually perceived as the most glamorous or picturesque rooms of a building, Open Arms’ new basement deserves extra attention. For starters, it is spacious: slightly more than 4,000 square feet. This is absolutely crucial because of the additional refrigeration and food storage space it will provide—about 1500 square feet, including a walk-in cooler and freezer. Preparing nutritious meals for our clients requires ovens and stoves running at hot temperatures, and the opposite end of the thermometer—cooling and freezing those meals. Even before we start cooking, the basement space significantly improves our meal preparation because an increased variety of food products are readily available to the kitchen staff and volunteers.

In the photographs, you can also see the installation of the structural steel. The most visible columns reach upwards, and create a framework that helps support the ground floor, second floor, and the roof. Steel beams are like the bones of a skeleton, forming the internal structure of the building. Both steel and concrete are common materials for a commercial building in Minnesota because they are economical and easy to construct. What is uncommon, however, is the impressive and complex work Open Arms carries out on a daily basis. How exciting it is that the new building, from the basement on up, will strengthen that work, and nourish a rapidly expanding community of volunteers, donors, board members, staff, and clients.

Monday, July 20, 2009

More than just bricks...

General Contractor Watson-Forsberg continues to make progress on the building construction at 2500 Bloomington Avenue, Minneapolis. We're excited to see the new developments happening on the site every day. And we're still making choices each day to make sure that we have a facility that serves the Open Arms community - and our clients - well.
Also, we recently kicked off the Tile Campaign. We hope everyone will take advantage of their chance to be included in the building of our new kitchen... literally. Make a donation - as little as $14 a month - and we'll put up a tile with your name, or the name of someone you'd like to honor or remember. The tiles will be beautiful... see them at
Thanks for your ongoing support. It wouldn't be possible to make it a day without it...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Recollections of Volunteer, Denise D'Aurora

I am so excited about the new building! I go way back as a volunteer to the Congregational Church basement kitchen in Southeast Minneapolis.  My dear friend, Lloyd Simms got me to go with him on Thursday mornings.  We laid out slices of bread for sandwiches, added a serving of soup, and delivered before going back home ourselves.  I used to worry about whether or not we were hygienic enough--we were making meals for folks with compromised immune systems after all!  No sanitizer, brushes or gloves, just soap and water.  The new building is a wonderful testament to Bill Rowe's vision--and to the commitment of the wonderful staff members (past and present) the Board and most of all, volunteers. It is such a privilege to be involved. My congratulations and thanks!
Denise D'Aurora  

Friday, July 10, 2009

As you can see, the building progress continues. The last photo was taken in our cramped kitchen this morning. It will be a welcome change to have additional space to chop, mix and bake!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Photos for July 1

Above, you'll see major progress on the basement and building footings. It's the first piece of the permanent structure that will soon be our new home. There are big changes happening every day!