ACAB breaks ground in Tuesday ceremony

Published 4:56 pm Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Despite the cloudy skies and brisk wind, it was a bright day in downtown Austin.

Dignitaries came together to break ground on the Austin Community Action Building (ACAB), a little over five months after the announcement of the joint building was made.

“We’re one step closer to opening a community building … that will give people the support they need,” said Gema Alvarado, executive director of the Parenting Resource Center. 

When completed next fall, the ACAB will bring together the Parenting Resource Center, Michael H. Seibel Family Visitation & Exchange Center, Welcome Center and Children’s Dental Health Services under one roof.

Gema Alvarado, executive director of the Parenting Resource Center, welcomes people to Wednesday’s groundbreaking for the Austin Community Action Building. Eric Johnson/

“It’s just so surreal to know, to see,” Alvarado said. “Before I just used to say it’s happening, but to feel the dirt under my feet and know it’s taking place, I can’t even explain the feeling.”

Ownership of the building will fall under the Parenting Resource Center ownership. The new building, which will connect to the existing Seibel building, will feature more off-street parking and a secure, outdoor play area for families.

It will also provide a permanent location for the Welcome Center and open up what the Children’s Dental Health Services will be able to offer.

The Rochester-based business provides free dental care through school outreach to over 1,000 Mower County children who are uninsured or on medical assistance.

However, for more serious dental work, families had to drive to Rochester. Having a place in Austin will alleviate that problem.

This is the second groundbreaking for a new facility downtown in just about two weeks and follows KSMQ’s event for its new Broadcast Center, which will be built a couple of blocks west of the ACAB.

Jeff Ettinger, executive director of The Hormel Foundation noted the growth of downtown Austin with the construction of the ACAB Wednesday.

“It shows the energy of downtown as downtown stretches in a new direction,” he said. “I’m really excited, aptly, for the Austin Community Action Building and what it’s going to do.”

Executive Director for United Way of Mower County Molly Lanke, who’s organization works with all four of the ACAB’s occupants said that this move will do wonders for all parties involved.

“This is a game-changer,” she said. “Our community is better off in the end.”