Woman changing lightbulb

Gilbert Heritage Center, which fulfills the town’s social services needs through nonprofit AZCEND, is the focus of this year’s Gilbert Leadership class project.

Formerly a library and later known as the Page Park Center, the town-owned building at Oak Street and Bruce Avenue downtown underwent a federally-funded $1.1 million renovation in early 2018 when it was outfitted as a hub for wellness, education and resources. 

Despite the makeover, some areas of the 8,000 square-foot center could use some help – so, the Gilbert Leadership Class XXVIII stepped in.

“Our goal is to help AZCEND bring additional warmth and life to the room and space since they are bare,” said class participant Mum Martens.

The class has raised nearly $10,000 for the beautification project, scheduled June 6-7 with each participant devoting three hours each day. Though the project was postponed from April due to the pandemic, fundraising continues.

The center is a collaborative effort between the town and several local non-profit providers that provide information, referrals and access to necessities for  families and individuals in crisis, those afflicted by mental health and substance abuse, low-income elderly and the homeless. It provides access – mostly free for Gilbert residents –to medical, dental, counseling and social services as well.

Gilbert Leadership participants will create interior wall art in the conference and kids’ rooms and common areas, install signage and plant edible-citrus trees. 

AZCEND CEO Trinity Donovan said the Gilbert Leadership project will help her organization and all the other providers at the center. Signage is important because of the different groups that operate there, she said, and it’s also important to make the rooms more welcoming.

The conference space will have homey touches such as canvas squares, a vinyl wall art and artificial potted plants. The Dignity Health area will be equipped with floating shelving, framed prints, rainbow decals and more artificial potted plants. A chalkboard wall and beanbag chairs will be added to the kids’ room. 

The project also honors the history of the building, which opened in 1964.

 After the library outgrew the space, parks and recreation activities were held until the adjacent community center was built. The building was named the Page Park Center after a Gilbert mayor of  the 1930s, Walter M. Page, a grocer known for his generosity. 

The six eucalyptus trees on the premises were removed at a cost of more than $4,000 to make room for four citrus trees that will also provide shade. The old tree roots had been compromising the foundation of the building, Donovan said.

Martens said that the group chose the Heritage Center because of its mission and services to the community. 

“Gilbert Leadership participants are motivated to help with fundraising and the cost of letting other people know about the important services that are in there,” said Donovan.

Administered by the Gilbert Chamber Foundation, Gilbert Leadership is a program that brings together individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences to develop their leadership potential.

“It’s nice to have that group of committed and energetic leaders in the Gilbert community to be working on this,” Donovan said. To donate, visit ascend.org; “Gilbert Leadership Class 28” must be in the comments field.