John Nicolaus came to Wayfinder for the landscaping and stayed for the children.
Five years ago, Wayfinder received a grant to upgrade the exterior of its Citrus Heights office to improve access for people with disabilities. “Every ADA upgrade requires a landscape architect to fix it up at the end after the sidewalks have been torn out,” John explains. A business friend recruited John, a principal landscape architect for Wood Rodgers, Inc., as a volunteer to design the new landscaping and lead the re-landscaping work.
John and dozens of volunteers spent four weekends doing hard, physical work, swinging a pickax and using a jackhammer to dig holes in the hard clay soil. When they were finished, the volunteers took great satisfaction in the beautiful, drought-tolerant landscaping they had installed.
At a thank-you reception for volunteers, John was very moved by a Wayfinder video that used Chrissie Hynde singing “I’ll Stand By You” as the background music. “I almost lost my composure,” John remembers. A member of Wayfinder’s senior staff noticed John’s reaction and approached him to discuss the organization’s work. At the conclusion of their conversation, John had accepted an invitation to join the board of directors.
In addition to donating personally, John has such a strong belief in Wayfinder’s mission that he has also secured Wood Rodgers as an annual sponsor of the Derby Day fundraising event. He convinced professional friends to make four-year pledges to Wayfinder’s Change the Future Fund. And John invited Wayfinder to be a beneficiary of a Wood Rodgers employee event that produced $10,000 for the organization. Also, he chairs the Community Council, which connects Wayfinder to new resources for support.
What draws John to Wayfinder? “It’s the good work that Wayfinder does,” he says. “Wayfinder touches more than 21,000 people a year in foster and adoption, behavioral care and services for people with vision loss. The breadth of services that Wayfinder offers to our communities is extremely important.”
The admiration goes both ways. “We are incredibly blessed to have him on our team,” says Doni DeBolt, associate director of development. “He’s a great guy!”
John sums up his commitment to Wayfinder simply, “This is my way to give back—with gratitude.”
February 27, 2023