Adelaida Severson

Headshot of Adelaida Severson, chair of the capital campaign.

HD SOUTH’s $2 million capital campaign, which took a hit during the pandemic, is getting back on track. Organizers are working with new plans and fresh impetus to raise the remaining $500,000.

“The pandemic definitely waylaid our efforts,” said Adelaida V. Severson, chair of the capital campaign and CEO/president of the Gilbert-based satellite communication company, Bushtex. “We had hoped to be further along in the process, but won’t stop until we raise the necessary funds.” 

The fundraising aims to help the home of the Gilbert Historical Museum, located in the southern end of the Heritage District, be turned into an arts and culture center. Plans call for renovating the 1913 building and construct an additional one. The Gilbert Historical Society is a non-profit. 

Although organizers had raised $1.5 million previously and just launched the public part of the campaign in February 2020, momentum waned in the pandemic. 

Planned breakfasts and other meetings with potential donors, school outreach, restaurant nights, kickoff and orientation events were postponed or canceled.

“We are in the process of reigniting those efforts,” Severson said.

The process is uphill, but only from the perspective of trying to get back the momentum, she said. 

“Thankfully, we live in a very supportive community, so we are once again starting to see some traction on our fundraising,” she added.  

From June 6-12, HD SOUTH will benefit from a Gilbert-wide Restaurant Week. Many restaurants, among them Flancer’s, will donate a portion of their weekly proceeds to the center. 

In an effort dubbed “Wheels for History,” car dealerships also plan to donate to the project from June 19-25. (See for details for a complete list of participating restaurants and dealerships.)

Commemorative bricks in three sizes are available for purchase for $125, $250 and $1,000; they may be inscribed with a business or person of the donor’s choice. About 90 bricks have been sold so far. Other naming opportunities are also available.

“The majority of the donors are Gilbert/East Valley residents who see the tremendous need for the preservation of our existing facility as well as the stark reality that HD SOUTH offers so many programs and events and has simply outgrown the current space,” Severson said.  

Communities are bonded by honoring their history and building for the future, said JW Rayhons, president of Gilbert-based Rayhons Financial Solutions, who donated to the project.

“Gilbert has a story,” he said. “Giving to HD SOUTH gives you an opportunity to impact the next chapters in Gilbert’s story.” 

The concept that jumpstarted the facility’s growth and necessitated the subsequent building project was launched a few years ago. 

Former director Kayla Kolar knew that history museums are outdated in this technologically enhanced world and couldn’t sustain themselves in the long run. 

Hence, she oversaw a rebranding of the Gilbert Historical Museum as a multi-faceted arts and culture community center while remaining the keeper of the now more than 100-year-old town’s stories. 

Soon after HD South’s 2017 rebranding, the center developed new programming based on health, wellness, art and history.

“The new programming has been very well received by the community, and was consistently well attended until early 2020,” Severson said. “We have recently seen an uptick in attendance and are encouraged by our early 2021 attendance numbers.”

Rayhons has attended some programs and noted that its variety goes beyond history and museums in its appeal.

“HD SOUTH recognizes the importance of multi-generational arts and culture activities and how it strengthens our community,” he said. “They have phased in attractive programming with the resources available.”

Generations are coming together as planned. 

“We offer a variety of programs and events which encourage multi-generational attendance and participation,” Severson said. “Due to the success of these programs, we are running out of space, competing with ourselves.”

The Neely Community Room at HD SOUTH provides much needed facility rental income to the center. It’s also used for public programs.  

“A new building is critical to the ongoing sustainability of the organization and its programming,” she added.  

The capital campaign includes preservation of the current Gilbert Historical Museum and construction of a single-story, multi-purpose building for programs, exhibits, meetings, events and rentals.  

The courtyard will be redesigned and upgraded as a space for outdoor entertainment, classes and rentals for weddings, meetings and conferences.

The new 6,500-square-feet building will include ADA compliant restrooms and a kitchen. It will provide the opportunity to host community events as well as future innovative partnerships for arts and culture programming.  

Caliente Construction of Tempe has been selected as the builder. Construction will take six to nine months after groundbreaking, which is planned for fall.