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South Coast Non-Profit Building Educational Center In Central America Thanks To Generous Architects

Conceptural drawings of new campus planned by Ventura County based non-profit educational organization in Nicaragua

A Ventura County based non-profit organization is helping to improve the educations of kids, and adults in Central America.

Now, thanks to the generosity of some architects who designed a new center for them, it’s going to be able to expand its educational operations in Nicaragua.

GoCare has been helping people for 15 years, with programs ranging from preschool to adult education. Michelle Cekov is President, and CEO of GoCare. She says the idea behind the organization started as the result of some trips of Ventura County Rotarians to Nicaragua, but because Rotary has limitations on things like paying salaries, a a non-profit was created.

The organization has boomed over the years, but has relied on rented space in government buildings for its educational programs. It recently received a Rotary grant to expand in three areas of the country.

This is where some architects came into the picture. GoCare wants to build a center of its own in El Madrono, but it didn’t have the money to design the 7100 square foot campus. A decade ago, after the Indian Ocean tsunami, and Hurricane Katrina, some architects formed “Architects Without Borders”, to donate their services for worthwhile projects around the globe. They stepped up to help GoCare.

Shari Olson, a Seattle based architect, teamed up with a fellow architect, Lynn Gaffney, in New York, to take on the GoCare project. Plans call for seven buildings, with seven classrooms, a computer center, a library, and offices. There’s also a central plaza and courtyard which will allow the complex to be used as a community center. Olson says it’s a great feeling to use their skills as architects to make a difference in people’s lives.

Cekov says it’s amazing the way “Architects Without Borders” stepped up to help when no one else would. She says the new facility will even allow their programs to become more self-sufficient, because owning the campus means they will be able to generate some revenue by charging for college prep classes on a sliding scale basis.

The Ventura based non-profit is hoping the design work will be complete in November, so construction can get underway in time to open the new campus in April.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.