Tuesday, September 14, 2010 2:03 PM

Terry’s House construction gains momentum

There’s a lot happening at the corner of Fresno and R streets in downtown Fresno. Where just five months ago stood a dirt lot, now stands a nearly finished house. And not just any house – Terry’s House – a 17,000-square-foot, two-story home that will lodge families whose loved ones are receiving critical care at Community Regional Medical Center.

Amid all the activity, additional donor-investors have lent a hand to help finish construction of the home and sustain it for future guests. The Leon S. Peters Foundation and Omni Anesthesia Associates, Inc. have each made recent pledges to help ensure families with loved ones receiving critical care at Community Regional will have a place to stay in their greatest times of need. The Leon S. Peters Foundation board approved a $500,000 gift to Terry’s House in August, and Omni Anesthesia Associates members have pledged $100,000 to the home.

Once completed, Terry’s House will feature 20 guest rooms with private baths, in-house refrigerators, activity lounge, sitting areas, kitchen/dining area, family resource center, reflection room/chapel, exercise room and a healing garden. Getting involved with a project like Terry’s House is something that Kenneth “Butch” Peters feels very strongly about doing since his family members have been longtime supporters of Community Medical Centers.

“Terry’s House is something uncle [Leon S. Peters] would’ve really liked,” Peters said. “This helps everybody. Anyone – whoever they may be.”

Karen Wolaridge, CEO of Omni Anesthesia Associates Inc., said their group decided to do something really big for the Terry’s House cause. Each member of the group is donating an hour of pay to it each month. Omni Anesthesia Associates Inc. is a collaborative effort of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and Anesthesiologists (MDs) that staff the operating rooms at the Table Mountain Rancheria Trauma Center at Community Regional – the only Level 1 trauma center between Los Angeles and Sacramento.

“Since we work here in the trauma center, we see patients and families that are in crisis situations – probably the worst of their lives. If there is one small thing we can do to make things better for the family members of these patients, then we want to do that,” Wolaridge said.

Construction on the house has been steady since the first wood-framed wall went up in late May. Since then, crews have completed the rough plumbing and electrical, exterior siding and have begun sheet-rocking the interior. Next comes dry walling, texturing, painting, roofing, applying interior finishes, installing cabinets and more exterior work, including adding sidewalks, ramps, stairs, exterior lighting and landscaping.

“It’s one of those projects that not only gets under your skin, but into your heart, and it’s easy to embrace it,” said Jim Christian, co-chair of Terry’s House.

The building and maintaining of Terry’s House is entirely dependent on private gifts and contributions. Much of the construction materials and labor to build Terry’s House have been donated by various folks in the community.

“There’s been some astounding and rewarding amount of generosity,” Christian said of the construction industry. “They are making this whole project come to life.”

Local area carpenters have been on call to assist in areas needed from pouring concrete, framing walls, constructing the roof, encapsulating the building and finalizing the interior finish. So far, the carpenters have volunteered more than 200 hours of their own time on weekends or in their free time during the week if they are not scheduled to work.

Community Medical Foundation’s goal is to raise $5 million to build the house, with additional funds to be raised to cover internal furnishings, operations and lodging to those in need. The project’s financing began with gifts from Tom Richards and Bank of America. Richards’ brother, Terry, is the namesake behind Terry’s House. Terry was seriously injured in a car accident when he was 5 years old, and Terry’s mother drove 80 miles a day for five months to be with her son.

To learn more about Terry’s House or to make a donation, log on to www.TerrysHouseFresno.com.

This story was reported by Jennifer Avila-Allen. She can be reached at javila@communitymedical.org.