All year long, Old Barn Self-Storage in Grass Valley is “Happy.” Happy Cow, Happy Graduates and Happy Father’s Day are among the latest things to be glad about.
It’s more than an amusing view offered to 25,000 motorists each day from the prominent hill along Highway 20/49.
It’s more like a life view, owners say. Since the locally owned company started partnering with western Nevada County schools, students and teachers are happy, too, with art competitions and electronic waste fundraisers that benefit local education.
In June, Union Hill School, just east of Grass Valley, is benefiting from Old Barn’s monthly collection of unwanted computers, monitors, printers, cell phones, radios and other electronic junk. Take your e-waste from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. to the self-storage office at 175 Spring Hill Drive, off Idaho-Maryland Road.
Union Hill is among 29 nonprofit and educational groups Old Barn has partnered with for the monthly e-waste collection or for the Happy Art Contest, said Stephen R. DeSena, of Nevada City. (DeSena is managing partner and developer of the facility, which is owned by a group of Grass Valley and Nevada City residents.)
These two types of partnerships keep Old Barn an active part of the community, said DeSena, a Realtor who has lived and worked in western Nevada County for more than 45 years.
“Union Hill was among the first schools to respond … to our Happy Art Contest. They’ve supported us, and we’re glad to support them with this e-waste drive,” DeSena added.
The art partnership with Union Hill started last year, said Pupil-Personnel Secretary Pam Torkman.
“A couple teachers had students do art for it,” Torkman said.
Several Union Hill students won cash prizes, and the first-place winner’s teacher earned $200 for classroom supplies.
The top drawings were enlarged and placed on the hill, including “April showers” and “May flowers,” said onsite manager Lew Aebersold. The visual messages, paired with the “Happy” sign, offer an uplifting message to commuters.
Then, Old Barn offered the school a spot in its rotating e-waste collection program, which raises about $200 to $300 each month for the participating nonprofit group.
“All we have to do is publicize it,” Torkman said. “How great is that?”
Aebersold collects the donated materials in a storage locker, then calls international SIMS Recycling Solutions, with a facility in Roseville, to fetch the junk.
“They crush it, separate it; everything is used,” he said. Donors “don’t have to do anything.”
Union Hill leaders plan to use their earnings on something to benefit students directly, such as field trips or assemblies, Torkman said.
“Everybody’s happy,” Aebersold concluded.
Grass Valley resident and freelance writer Trina Kleist may be reached at email@example.com or 530-575-6132.