California Closets of Suffolk County is helping an environmental learning center upgrade their facility to protect wildlife and educate young and old people alike.
A once outdated science lab, the Suffolk County Marine Environmental Learning Center in Southold, New York had a vision to create an interactive learning environment. California Closets of Suffolk County received a call from the Marine Corp. of Suffolk County, an extension of Cornell University, to give a small donation. Instead, the California Closets franchise decided to help them build the center.
“As soon as we went to the center, we realized how much work was needed and how much we loved the potential of the space, ” says Anthony DeVincenzo, Vice President of Marketing and Technology of California Closets of Suffolk County.
They needed tons of storage, for one. We designed and built asymmetric open cabinets, hanging racks for backpacks, and a multimedia in the room. Additionally, we added LED lit shadow boxes to house display pieces, and for good measure, we constructed a center island to house an Augmented Reality Sand Box, among other things.”
California Closets donated all of the materials and labor (totaling over $30, 000) to install the new cabinetry for the classroom and touch tank room, a total of. Committed to sustainability, all materials used boosted efficiency and reduced waste.
The complete renovation, which depends on the donations from others, will include will include upgraded fish tanks, touch tanks, wall exhibits, hatchery facilities, a water quality lab, and a coastal plant greenhouse.
We sat down with DeVincenzo to talk more about the project.
What made you start, and ultimately fall in love with this project?
AD: California Closets has been serving Suffolk County for over thirty years; which is about the same amount of time the SCMELC location has been around. Once I met with the team running the project, saw what they were achieving and felt their fervor about our local environment, it just seemed right that we become involved.
Tell us about the volunteer team to help make this renovation possible?
AD: Suffolk Project in Aquaculture Training (SPAT) is a 100 percent volunteer-only run program that is teaching people how to breed oysters. There are volunteers in-house every day, including older adults, who are firstly, doing something positive and secondly, participating in a program that’s engaging people. These volunteers are making the materials themselves, so they’re very resilient and thrifty. For example, they’re making their own boats, holding pens, greenhouses, etc.
Why do you think this project is so meaningful?
AD: Living and working in Suffolk County and contributing to the community here brings so much more meaning to our work as space planners. California Closets’ slogan: ‘Designs better lives’, means designing better lives for everyone, in every space. I personally believe we design better lives for our community by doing this kind of work, by exercising our ability to create spaces that are functional. In this case, we’ve not only done all that, but we are also providing an inviting space for folks to visit and think about how they too can help protect our fragile Long Island environment and seashore.
What I’m hoping to do is to build some momentum for them. My thinking is that, if one established Long Island company jumps in, then others will follow the lead.