Visalia Times-Delta: ImagineU’s Plight Touches Community
By Donna-Marie Sonnichsen
An outpouring of support from throughout the county to a local museum has shown once more the heart the people of Tulare County have.
The ink was barely dry on the news article about the popular ImagineU Children’s Museum shutting down indefinitely when phones started ringing at both the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register and at the museum as people and businesses throughout the county reached out after being touched by their plight.
The interactive museum had to cut programming short and send everyone home Saturday when the compressor in the air conditioning unit for the main part of the museum died.
In Tulare, BMI Mechanical heard about the situation from an employee and by Thursday afternoon were installing temporary industrial-size portable cooling units.
“I’ve volunteered at the museum and used to work for one, so I know the struggle nonprofits fact,” BMI sales manager Erin Andersen said. “We had a meeting of the minds and brainstormed ideas on how to help both short term and into the future. This is an area of expertise for us and we felt like we needed to step up.”
While their long-term problems are not yet settled, the generosity means the museum will reopen Tuesday, just in time for a previously scheduled field trip of 180 elementary schoolchildren.
“I’ve gone from being so worried about what we were going to do to feeling very optimistic. I was just overwhelmed by response from the community. I’ve always known it was a great community, but even knowing that, I was still overwhelmed but the response,” executive director Virginia Strawser said.
Employee Guy Fawkes brought the situation to the BMI higher ups’ attention after his wife saw the article.
“We’ve been trying to get more into community outreach in our own lives, so that’s where our hearts are. If we have the resources, why not use them and contribute to the sense of community?” Fawkes asked just before installing the portable units.
Other local air conditioning firms such as Grant’s and Comfort Now have also come forward to help examine the system for possible repairs and to look into ways to help.
“Things are definitely looking better working on bringing [the old system] back to life, but we will still need to preplace the main unit,” Strawser said, noting she is relieved she won’t have to disappoint kids counting on next week’s field trip.
The median service life of a package air conditioner is 15 years.
For nearly 19 years BMI has supplied services to Laurelglen Bible Church under an annual maintenance contract. Our experience with BMI has always been exceptional. Your staff is professional and always available to meet our needs in a timely manner. The maintenance
contract has taken ‘the risk out’ of servicing and repairing our HVAC units.
John F. Penrose
Laurelglen Bible Church