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The Fairbanks: Road to Restoration Enters Second Phase

Theresa Bettmann KSMU

Progress continues on renovations to the former Fairbanks elementary school in Springfield’s Grant Beach Neighborhood.

“We are beginning phase two which includes the auditorium, the teaching kitchen, and the two classrooms,” said Christina Wiksell, director of Community Outreach for the Drew Lewis Foundation.

The foundation is currently taking donations and encourages the community to join in its “Be a Friend, Buy a Brick” fundraising program. Sponsorship opportunities are also available on The Fairbanks website that range from $10 to $200,000.

“We were secured a $500,000 loan through Great Southern Bank, but we need to secure $100,000 in order to be able to use that loan,” explained Wiksell.

Wiksell said that the foundation has reached just over 10 percent of its goal thanks to a generous contribution. Dan Cobb will be recognized for the future Dan Cobb Meditation Garden after his donation of $10,000.

This Saturday, The Drew Lewis Foundation presents “Sounds in the Garden”, an all-day music concert at The Fairbanks from noon until 7 p.m.

The event will include the foundation’s buy a brick campaign, as well feature the launch of its new Computer and “Music For All” programs.

The Computer program will host children and adult classes that include beginner’s knowledge of Windows, Microsoft Office, and other basic programs. The “Music For All” program will provide free music lessons to youth.

According to the event website, “All proceeds will go directly to The Drew Lewis Foundation education and enhancement projects at the Fairbanks with a goal of dedicating one hundred bricks to fund ongoing restoration efforts.”

In addition, Wiksell said, “During that time too we are going to give building tours – guided building – of the renovated parts. We will also be partnering with Springfield Community Gardens and Springfield Urban Agriculture Coalition for a gardening education there on site.

The official opening of The Fairbanks still has a long way to go, but the foundation has partnered with Missouri State University to start classes for the community this fall.

The Fairbanks also has volunteer opportunities for those who would like to help the foundation reach its restoration goals.

“On the second and third weekends of each month we host volunteer days so anyone from the community, church group, or other agencies for organizations can come here on site,” said Wiksell.

The overall goal of the Fairbanks renovation project is to build a community resource center with the hope of improving the quality of life in Grant Beach Neighborhood.  Amy Blansit and her husband Drew Lewis purchased the building. Although Drew lost his battle with cancer in May of 2013, Amy continues to work to achieve their vision.

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