It’s been dubbed the “Miracle on the Mountain.”
After a proposal to construct a zipline course at LightHouse for the Blind’s Enchanted Hills Camp on Mount Veeder was made public this spring, it provoked the ire of neighbors, who prepared to clash with LightHouse over the project.
LightHouse said it needed the money to keep the camp open, while neighbors feared it would lead to traffic and disrupt their quiet lifestyles on the mountain. The idea was quickly scuttled, but from that dispute neighbors, and LightHouse staff have been collaborating on how to keep the camp open, LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin said.
Bashin said neighbors have organized volunteer days, where they come and lend a hand in upkeep and maintenance for the camp’s facilities.
Mount Veeder resident Dorian Greenow was one of the most vocal in opposing the zipline, but after the proposal was dropped he said neighbors were looking for ways to help.
“It’s managed to coalesce beautifully,” Greenow said last week. “My thoughts were, ‘Whatever happens out of this, we are here to help you — you are my neighbor.’ It just got the community together.”
The improvements range from painting, weeding and planting a garden to bringing in tractors to flatten blackberry bushes, said Jennifer Sachs, director of development for LightHouse.
Greenow said about 30 people joined a work party, including a core group of residents who worked to oppose the zipline course — Evangeline James, Gary Margadan, Leslie Stewart, Jim Tomlinson and Harris Nussbaum.
Sachs said that the camp had been cloistered in the past, and hadn’t involved its neighbors much. Bashin said that’s changed — for the better.
“I have the best job in the world,” Bashin said. “I get to see the good side of people.”
Sachs said the work to improve the camp will help LightHouse rent it out for corporate retreats, weddings, and other special events that will boost the agency’s bottom line.
It still faces a deficit, but the work has been a definite help. News coverage of the zipline proposal helped connect LightHouse to a $30,000 grant from a local group, Sachs said.
“We still had a terrible deficit that we are trying to deal with,” Sachs said. “We have a real need. It’s kind of like a lot of little things that all add up to be huge.”
The neighbors have also helped connect camp with local charitable organizations such as the Kiwanis Club of Napa, Rotary Club of Napa and Lions Clubs in the North Bay. The Lions have offered to help sponsor kids who attend camp, while Rotary has offered to help build a stage for theater performances, Sachs said.
“It just opened doors to us that have never been opened before,” Sachs said.
Bashin said neighbors have been in contact with LightHouse staff on a daily- to weekly-basis, and are planning to use the camp as a community gathering place, either for movie nights or monthly events. In the future, they might plan to do an annual fundraiser, Sachs said.
Greenow said he — and his neighbors — look forward to helping in the future.
“It was a whole bunch of different pieces that have come together,” Greenow said. “The whole part is being neighborly.”