EXTREME MAKEOVER — SHADE TREE EDITION: North Las Vegas shelter gets $2.5 million renovation thanks to Wynn Las Vegas and 170 community partners
Cecily Martin has seen some dramatic changes during her time spent living at The Shade Tree — all of them for the better.
The North Las Vegas shelter for women and children has undergone a large-scale renovation worth $2.5 million in recent months, spurred by a $1.5 million investment from Wynn Las Vegas.
The greatly refurbished digs look great. They also send an important message to shelter residents: You matter.
“It’s brought my confidence up,” Martin says of the facility’s facelift. The 45-year-old landed at the shelter early this year when her adult daughter, with whom she had been living, moved out of state.
“When you don’t have an income coming in, things can get stressful and you get kind of discouraged,” she says. The fact that someone cared
enough to improve her temporary home “gives you a sense of encouragement.”
The smell of fresh paint lingers in the air as Martin speaks in The Shade Tree’s new conference room. In other areas of the 19-year-old building on Owens Avenue at Main Street, workers put the final touches on the renovations. They sweep and mop the new floors, test out the new commercial dishwasher and even power-washed the parking lot.
Major improvements to the facility include an entirely new kitchen, upgraded bathrooms, a renovated intake area and spruced-up dorms, children’s activity center and basement. More than 130 new security cameras were installed throughout the campus to help ensure the safety of residents, many of whom are survivors of domestic violence.
After the Wynn last year announced its investment to improve a few key areas of the shelter, the project grew in scale, turning into a $2.5 million, facility-wide overhaul with the support of some 170 community partners ranging from construction companies to Best Mattress, which donated 250 new mattresses for the dorms.
“When you walk through the doors of The Shade Tree, you can’t help but feel the need to help,” says Darrell Richards, vice president of construction for Wynn Design and Development, while standing in the shelter’s soothing outdoor healing garden. “It’s emotional. You can’t help but become invested.”
An average of 30 tradespeople worked on the project each day, for a total of about 12,500 man-hours since late February, Richards said.
One of the most dramatic improvements involve the shelter’s kitchen, which increased in size from 300 square feet to 1,700 square feet and now includes a walk-in freezer.
The kitchen “was like a closet” before, says Becky Borero, The Shade Tree’s director of operations. “Now, everything’s commercial grade.”
Previously, staffers had to haul food from refrigerators in the basement to the first-floor kitchen. “Now it’s all going to be right here,” Borero says.
The new commercial dishwasher will allow the shelter to use donated dishes, saving $1,200 a month in paper products.
Caesars Entertainment took on renovation of the shelter’s second floor, including much-needed improvements to the washroom.
“At the end of the day all of these contractors and casinos that compete with each other were able to come together and make this possible,” says Karyn Steenkamp, vice president of design and construction for Caesars. “It wasn’t just one person, one casino, or one company, it was the coming together of an entire community.”
Both Richards and Steenkamp also sit on the shelter’s board of trustees.
The amount of local support amazes Linda Perez, The Shade Tree’s new executive director, who took the helm in mid-April.
“It just blows me away, the community support from the Wynn, Caesars and all the organizations that have contributed,” she says. “To be able to provide a safe space for our residents is so important to their mental state and their healing. Especially with the children, they get to feel proud that they’re here in this beautiful environment.”
Currently, The Shade Tree shelters about 160 women and 60 children each night. “Right now, we have four or five newborn babies,” Borero says.
Martin is grateful for the improvements to the place she calls home for now. “It was money well spent.” But she still looks forward to moving into her own apartment when she gets back on her feet.
And she recently took a step toward that brighter future, having just landed a job in housekeeping at the Linq Hotel.
Shelter gets aid from superstar
Grammy Award-winner Christina Aguilera’s upcoming Las Vegas concerts will benefit The Shade Tree shelter for women and children.
Aguilera, along with Live Nation Las Vegas and Caesars Entertainment, has announced that $1 of every ticket purchased to Christina Aguilera: The Xperience will be donated to the shelter.
The 9 p.m. show opens at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood resort-casino on Friday, May 31. Tickets for 16 performances through Oct. 5 are on sale now and can be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com/Xtina or in person at the Planet Hollywood box office. General ticket prices begin at $60, plus taxes and fees.
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