Over the next two weeks, Centro Hispano will be torn apart and remodeled as the recipient of this year’s Design for a Difference effort.
Design for a Difference is a national project by the International Design Guild to donate interior design makeovers to nonprofits whose own funds could be better used to serve their causes. Madison’s branch is run by FLOOR360 owner and CEO Bob Tobe and managed by vice president Angela Skalitzky.
Centro Hispano’s deep community ties made it the right organization to receive the makeover, Tobe said.
Founded in 1983, Centro Hispano’s original mission was to aid Cuban refugees who settled in Madison. As Madison’s Latino population grew and became more diverse, Centro Hispano’s goals expanded to meet the needs of the entire Latino community. Each year, more than 5,000 people in the Madison area are served by the organization through its support services and workshops.
“We really connected with the fact that they reach out to the community,” Stalitzky said. She added, “Their space just needs so much help.”
In 2006, Centro Hispano moved into its 810 W. Badger Road location, but the building wasn’t designed for the office space and community workshop rooms that Centro Hispano sought to have.
“My predecessor Perter Munoz purchased the building with the vision of a facility that could provide quality services to the community,” executive director Karen Menendez Coller said. “Through this remodel, we will be able to bring his vision to a reality.”
Even though the physical labor of the project begins Sunday, months of design work has already been done. Since the project was announced in March, volunteers have been planning the logistics, designing the space and procuring the materials needed for the transformation.
That leaves just two weeks to finish the project before the Oct. 15 deadline for the reveal.
To remodel the space, some walls will need to come down and doorways will be reconfigured, Tobe said. Currently, for example, to get from the lobby to the kids’ play and learning area, visitors have to walk through several rooms, including offices and a storage closet, rather than down a single hallway.
Other updates include a new executive office space, a fully functional kitchen and new furniture and appliances.
Around $400,000 worth of materials, labor and monetary donations is going toward the work.
Madison’s Design for a Difference project has become a guidepost for national projects, Tobe said. The amount of professional and community support given to the project has made it a success three years running, and other cities planning their own projects look to Madison for inspiration, he said. But it’s not the design guild’s attention that keeps him organizing these projects.
“When you see how much it affects the organization … and the positive feedback we get, we’re not going to stop,” Tobe said.
Last year’s recipient of the Design for a Difference remodel was The Rainbow Project, 810 E. Washington Ave. With stained carpet and torn furniture, the organization’s office didn’t exactly provide the welcoming atmosphere desired for a children’s and family counseling service.
“It finally feels like a space that reflects how deeply we care about what we do,” clinician Christen Brockner said after seeing the remodel last year.
Centro Hispano’s building will be closed during the two-week renovation process, Menendez Coller said, but clients can still schedule services and face-to-face case management meetings off-site by calling 608-255-3018.