Our Town St. Helena names new boardmembers

Our Town St Helena (OTSH), a local affordable housing advocacy organization, has announced three new members of its Board of Directors: Michael Caldarola, Dan Hale and Polly Ogden.

The newest board member, Michael Caldarola, has been an active community member in St Helena over 25 years. He served six years on the Board of the UpValley Family Centers and has been involved in everything from umpiring Little League to acting in local theater productions. Before his retirement in 2013, he spent three decades as a research attorney at the Sixth District Court of Appeals in San Jose. His unique combination of legal expertise and in-depth knowledge of our community will serve the organization well.

Dan Hale has just finished a four-year stint on the St. Helena Planning Commission, and that experience will provide excellent insights to OTSH as housing projects go through the design and entitlement process. For over two decades he has combined his extensive art, design and technical skills on a wide range of projects including furniture, sculpture and lighting, and interior and architectural design, so he brings both an artist’s eye and a contractor’s knowledge to the board.

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Polly Ogden is a California licensed general contractor who opened Polly Ogden Associates in St. Helena in 1982. Since then she has served a wide array of local and regional customers. She speaks fluent Spanish, having grown up in Mexico City, but has been in the Napa Valley for over 40 years. Her vast experience with residential design, entitlement, construction and budgeting will be invaluable to OTSH as will her deep commitment to providing housing for a diverse group of residents in our town.

The trio joins board members Jordan Bentley, Sara Bjerken Crisman, Steve Goldfarb, Ryan Heyward, Joe McGrath and Justin Sterling.

“We are very fortunate to have three talented new board members who bring such a deep and diverse array of skills and experience to our organization,” said Jordan Bentley, board president.

Our Town St. Helena recently completed Brenkle Court, eight self-help townhomes on McCorkle Avenue. Current projects include rental developments on Pope Street and the Phelps property across from St. Helena High School. Projects are funded by a combination of government funding, conventional loans, enterprise support, private donations, and foundation grants. The nonprofit organization depends on local grants and donations to cover operational expenses.

“Having a board that is multi-talented and deeply committed to building and preserving housing for people vital to our community is a big plus for Our Town St. Helena,” said Executive Director Jennifer La Liberte. “We will begin 2023 with approximately 50 affordable rental units in our pipeline and an outstanding group of housing advocates to lead the way.”

Eight families helped build their new homes at St. Helena’s Brenkle Court.

Barry Eberling

Photos: Grand opening of St. Helena’s Brenkle Court housing complex

Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Participants in the Brenkle Court self-help housing project gathered before the start of the project’s grand opening ceremony Monday in St Helena. The project saw eight local health care, agriculture and educational workers who are first-time home buyers help to build their own townhomes an in example of “sweat equity.”



Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

State Sen. Bill Dodd and Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry spoke during the grand opening of the Brenkle Court self-help housing project in St. Helena on Monday afternoon.



Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Monsignor John Brenkle speaks Monday in St. Helena during the opening ceremony for the Brenkle Court self-help housing project, which was named in his honor.



Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Participants in the Brenkle Court self-help housing project gathered for photos during the project’s grand opening ceremony Monday in St. Helena. The new residents are local workers who contributed their own labor toward constructing the townhouses. 



Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

St. Helena Vice Mayor Paul Dohring cuts the ribbon during the grand opening of the Brenkle Court self-help housing project Monday afternoon.



Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

St. Helena Vice Mayor Paul Dohring speaks Monday during the grand opening of the Brenkle Court self-help housing project in the city.



Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Visitors walk through one of the new units inside the Brenkle Court housing project in St. Helena during an opening ceremony on Monday.



Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Participants in the Brenkle Court self-help housing project in St. Helena listened to speakers during the project’s formal ground opening Monday.



Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

A visitor looks at the floor plans of homes at St. Helena’s Brenkle Court development on Monday during its formal opening.



Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

A visitor tours the kitchen of a unit inside Brenkle Court, a St. Helena self-help housing development that officially opened Monday afternoon.



Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

A visitor walks past the Brenkle Court description plaque during the grand opening of the housing project in St. Helena on Monday.



Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry speaks during the grand opening of the Brenkle Court self-help housing project in St. Helena on Monday. Eight local workers who are first-time home buyers helped build their own townhomes at the complex.



Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Mary Stephenson, a founding member of the nonprofit Our Town St. Helena, speaks during the grand opening of the Brenkle Court self-help housing project Monday afternoon.



Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Napa County Supervisor Diane Dillon speaks during the grand opening of the Brenkle Court self-help housing project Monday in St. Helena.



Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Monsignor John Brenkle accepts a plaque Monday during the grand opening of the Brenkle Court self-help housing project in St. Helena, which was named in his honor.



Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Mary Stephenson a founding member of the non-profit Our Town speaks during the grand opening of the Brenkle Court self-help housing project in St Helena on Monday. The project, saw eight local health care, agriculture and educational workers who are first time home buyers build their own townhomes.



Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Invited guests gather before the grand opening of the Brenkle Court self-help housing project in St Helena on Monday. The project, saw eight local health care, agriculture and educational workers who are first time home buyers build their own townhomes.



Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

California Assemblymember Cecilia Aguilar Curry chats with Rex Stults of Napa Valley Vintners before the grand opening of the Brenkle Court self-help housing project in St Helena on Monday. The project, saw eight local health care, agriculture and educational workers who are first time home buyers build their own townhomes.



Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

St. Helena Vice Mayor Paul Dohring cuts the ribbon during the grand opening of the Brenkle Court self-help housing project in St Helena on Monday. The project, saw eight local health care, agriculture and educational workers who are first time home buyers build their own townhomes.



Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Our Town Board of Directors President Jordan Bentley speaks during the grand opening of the Brenkle Court self-help housing project in St Helena on Monday. The project, saw eight local health care, agriculture and educational workers who are first time home buyers build their own townhomes.



Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

California Senator Bill Dodd and California Assemblymember Cecilia Aguilar Curry speak during the grand opening of the Brenkle Court self-help housing project in St Helena on Monday. The project, saw eight local health care, agriculture and educational workers who are first time home buyers build their own townhomes.



Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

Brenkle Court Grand Opening Ceremony

A visitor walks across the threshold of a new home during the grand opening of the Brenkle Court self-help housing project in St Helena on Monday. The project, saw eight local health care, agriculture and educational workers who are first time home buyers build their own townhomes.



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