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Centro Hispano Plaza

Centro Hispano was the subject of this year's Design for a Difference remodeling project. More than $600,000 in labor, materials and appliances was donated to the effort. Several of the center's murals were preserved and inspired the color palettes in the renovation.

Centro Hispano was drab, worn from years of use, with a floor plan that wasn’t conducive to the community activities held there, says executive director Karen Menendez Coller.

But a two-week demolition and remodel has given Centro Hispano a much-needed face lift and left staff and community members overjoyed.

Design for a Difference’s Madison branch put $600,000 worth of labor, appliances and materials into the Latino community support center’s facility.

It’s the largest amount donated by Design for a Difference, which chooses a nonprofit each year for its remodeling projects in an effort to create beautiful and practical spaces for organizations that could better use their own funds for community services.

Menendez Coller said she saw staff members shaking with joy when their offices were revealed to them, and children involved in the center’s program explored the space with excitement.

“I see (the staff) happy, and I see our families proud to be in the space,” she said.

Centro Hispano was chosen in March to be the recipient of the free remodel because of its strong community ties as well as the facility’s need for an update.

The facility at 810 Badger Road was remodeled with new floors, fresh paint and furniture. Although some of the center’s murals were painted over, several were preserved and used as inspiration for the color schemes throughout the offices and community spaces.

Staff at Centro Hispano didn’t get to see the remodel before it was completed, but they were consulted during the design process. Menendez Coller said the staff’s influence can be seen in the vibrant colors throughout the building.

“We wanted a lot more light. It was kind of drab before,” she said.

The renovation not only beautified the space but also made it more functional, Menendez Coller said. The activity spaces are more versatile, and offices now have the necessary storage space to improve organization.

“I am eternally grateful that this happened,” she said.

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Shelley K. Mesch is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal. She earned a degree in journalism from DePaul University.