Greg Donahue, owner of a Scottsdale-based home and commercial remodeling company, knows how to make a difference visually, by replacing countertops, restoring walls and rusted plumbing, and emotionally, by going deep down inside where it really counts.
Donahue and 40 of his employees at Sunvek will spend Dec. 4 remodeling, restoring and improving the look of Villa de las Madrinas, a semi-assisted-living facility built by other community volunteers more than 20 years ago.
Villa de las Madrinas is owned and operated by the Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services, a nonprofit agency started in Scottsdale in 1973 with headquarters at 7507 E. Osborn Road.
The renovation of the Villa includes a new kitchen, dining room, living room and pantry and is the final stage in an ongoing program by volunteers to improve the looks of the one-story, stucco building that is home to 18 adults with physical or developmental disabilities.
"Yes, we want to make a difference," said Donahue, whose employees and firm at 7681 E. Gray Road are contributing their time and money for the renovation. "The minute I walked into the villa, I knew that offering our services was something we could — and should — do to help others."
His company’s contribution is typical of the outpouring of community support that is the foundation of the 1,500-square-foot building near North 77th Street and McDowell Road.
Its history is traced to 1974, when 60 volunteer women began hosting the Fiesta de las Madrinas, one of Scottsdale’s most successful fundraisers that has since generated more than $3 million and raises more than $250,000 annually.
"Las Madrinas" is "godmothers" in Spanish.
Back then, rummage and bake sales and individual donations raised $120,000, which was used to buy land and build the Villa, which overlooks Vista del Camino Park. In 1982, the proceeds of another fund-raiser paid off a $30,000 mortgage.
"The Villas de las Madrinas is the crown jewel of STARS," said Nancy Clare Stern, development director of the agency. "It offers residents unique programs to learn independent living skills and be part of a caring home atmosphere," she said.
Besides the Villa, the agency, formerly known as Scottsdale Foundation for the Handicapped, also offers a work center at its East Osborn and Scottsdale Airpark facilities, a day treatment center at East Osborn and on-site employment for some clients.
The agency serves more than 200 adults daily with an operating budget of about $2 million.