SCNA President’s message: Sierra 2 closure has critical impact on staff, tenants

Americans have always resorted to humor to cope with difficult times.

Unfortunately, our current situation is hardly a laughing matter for many experiencing the loss of a job or reduced employment opportunities.

The mandated closure of virtually all non-essential businesses, especially small ones, produced a ripple effect, leaving hardly anyone untouched. The longer the health restrictions last, the less likely many businesses will be able to survive.

This is true for the Sierra 2 Center and its tenants. So, on or before the Big Day of Giving on May 7, I hope you will recognize and appreciate the contributions that Sierra 2 has made to our Curtis Park neighborhood over the past 40+ years.

Sierra 2 provides low-cost office, classroom, studio and theater space to groups and individuals from the Sacramento area and is home to many diverse groups, mostly nonprofits.

Several have been with us for decades, including Sacramento Braille Transcribers (more than 35 years), the Italian Cultural Society (more than 25 years), and La Famiglia Catering (24 years).

In addition to our permanent residents, hundreds of arts, cultural and social service nonprofits and private groups rent space at Sierra 2 during the year. Sierra 2‘s centerpiece, the 24th Street Theatre, showcases performance art year around.

As mentioned last month, the county-mandated closure of Sierra 2 eviscerated our revenue stream. While all but one tenant continue to pay rent, we have no assurances that will continue in May or beyond.

Sierra 2 Executive Director Terri Shettle has reduced expenses nearly 60% through a combination of staff furloughs, reduction of work hours and cuts in vendor expenses.

Nevertheless, we expect an ongoing $25,000 monthly shortfall that will require more withdrawals from our reserve account (currently approximately $300,000), which is intended to be used for maintenance and repairs. To minimize these withdrawals, we are pursuing grant and loan opportunities.

Thanks to Terri’s diligence in submitting our application, Sierra 2 was selected to receive a no-interest $12,800 loan from the city. We have also applied for an $80,000 loan through the recently enacted federal SBA Paycheck Protection Program, and are applying for a loan through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. Grant opportunities through the Sacramento Regional Foundation and others are also being explored.

However, monetary relief should not cause us to lose sight of the impact this crisis has had on our dedicated and capable Sierra 2 staff. Each of the 13 staff members has been adversely affected, with three full-time and four part-time staff laid off and the remainder working significantly reduced hours from home. Their time of service ranges from nine months to 16 years, with an average of more than six years.

The Sierra 2 facility is currently managed by Terri and a facility staff employee on a part-time basis. Though the center is closed, work must continue on customer outreach, canceling and rescheduling bookings, handling refunds, paying bills, etc.

We look forward to a time when the Sierra 2 Center will reopen. With your donations to Sierra 2, you can help us set the stage for another 40+ years of service to the community.

Written by Bill Hoover and posted on Monday, May 18th, 2020

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