Thursday, March 4, 2010
Behind on rent and rallying supporters, a Castroville youth program and church is fighting to keep its doors open. Last week, Soul’d Out Christian Center’s landlord served the organization with a three-day notice to pay $43,690 in rent or get out.
Soul’d Out officials say they owe $36,000 and have another two months to come up with the rent or purchase the Geil Street building, which is visible from eastbound Highway 156.
“We are just praying that time will permit and allow for something to happen before the deadline,” says Rev. Kit Tautolo. “We are going to keep fighting for the sake of our community and our kids.”
The nonprofit organization, which aims to keep youth off the streets and help move at-risk students from continuation high schools back into the mainstream educational system, is asking for donations and has collected hundreds of signatures of support. Soul’d Out made a similar fundraising push for the Weekly’s Community Fund, bringing in the most total donors (647 contributions) and the most young donors, but its financial problems persist.
“WE ARE JUST PRAYING THAT TIME WILL ALLOW SOMETHING TO HAPPEN BEFORE THE DEADLINE.”
Soul’d Out Christian Center is a San-Francisco-based nonprofit and corporation. The Monterey County branch started in Marina in 2004, bouncing around from the American Legion to the Filipino American Community Club, Tautolo says.
As the following grew, he says, God led him, for the third time, to the Castroville location.
The space, however, was in ill repair – holes in the wall, wiring stripped and no bathroom – when Soul’d Out occupied the building in April 2008, according to Kristin Edgar, head of administration. “Everything was gutted. It was robbed,” she says.
Soul’d Out volunteers fixed up the building and opened a community center with mentoring, after-school tutoring and annual events such as an Easter egg hunt and Christmas toy giveaway.
The organization was planning to buy the building, but an investor hasn’t come through and they couldn’t get a loan for the $1.7 million asking price, Edgar says. Jerome and Marimelle Pennington own the building.
“They were hoping that the financing would come through, and so far it’s not happening,” says a relative of the owners, who asked not to be named. “We cannot subsidize their stay there much longer. I’m sure they do some good for the community, but if they aren’t able to pay rent, what is the owner going to do?”
Bob Uemura, the Penningtons’ attorney, says the owners were getting ready to file an eviction lawsuit, but that was put on hold after Soul’d Out worked out more time to stay.
Edgar says the organization has raised $4,000 so far. Although the group has to come up with a lot more money, Soul’d Out hasn’t lost faith yet.
“We have been able to effect a lot of change in [the Castroville area],” Edgar says. “Nothing comes easy in this life. Usually the biggest victories are won through the toughest battles.”