Fairbanks says "Thank you Dennis & Mary Wise!!"

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Fairbanks Daily News Miner’s 6-28-06 article


WISE BENEFACTOR – Dennis Wise is thanked by Darlene Herbert during the block party celebrating the opening Tuesday afternoon of the Wise Family Center, which houses the Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living and Resource Center for Parents and Children. “It’s so wonderful that he’s helped so many people,” Herbert said of Wise, who has funded the Fairbanks Community Food Bank, the Fairbanks Rescue Mission, as well as the center that opened Tuesday.


A block party at the newly completed Wise Family Center, the new home for two long-running social support organizations, drew hundreds of residents Tuesday.

It was a bona fide party, with face-painting, plenty of cake, and a clown bending balloons into animal shapes.

It also hosted a dunking booth, where kids regularly dunked employees of the Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living.

The living center serves as a shelter for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and helps people in need of personal or legal advocacy. It has a new home in the $6 million building, which provides the organization with three times more space than its previous headquarters offered.

The living center’s tenant will be the Resource Center for Parents and Children. The Resource Center works to prevent child abuse and neglect by teaching parenting skills and providing a safe place for parents to share and deal with tough issues.

The two social service agencies have separate but complementary missions, said the Living Center’s Executive Director Brenda Stanfill, and it seems natural to put them under the same roof.

Coleen Turner, who directs the Resource Center, agreed: the two groups, she noted, share a number of clients.

“So they will be able to receive wrap-around services,” Turner said.

The building’s second-floor shelter includes a state-of-the-art kitchen with commercial-grade appliances, set up so organizations can hold nutritional cooking demonstrations. The shelter also includes a intake area and a donation area, and living quarters are situation on one ode of the floor with the dining room and common space on the other.

The building also includes a conference room that can be converted into a yoga room for employees, an inviting reception area, a group meeting room and a child-care center.

The center was donated by former Fairbanks resident Dennis Wise, Wise, who now splits his time between Washington state and Phoenix, has also built two other South Fairbanks facilities for the community: the Fairbanks Community Food Bank and the Fairbanks Rescue Mission. The Food Bank is currently undergoing a 16,000-square-foot expansion project, also paid for by Wise.

Wise said he began thinking about building the family center two years ago when the Food Bank’s director, Samantha Castle-Kirstein, raised the idea. He realized the resource and living centers provide for a natural collaboration.

“It’s going to help a lot of people,” Wise said.

Wise said he enjoys the chance to help social service agencies. While many agencies and nonprofits are good at what they do, they sometimes run up against trouble when it comes to finding space with which to work.

“So often their task becomes difficult because of the real estate,” Wise said. “That’s where I come in.”

The 51,000-square-foot complex center will also house the Resource Center’s Women, Infants, Children Supplementary Food Program.

anne@wiseprojects.org © 2005