Major land acquisition has a Fresno church excited about its vision to better serve local youth

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- From a home built on 200 acres in 1950, the late Earl and Muriel Smittcamp and their family built a business empire. The peaches are coming into bloom at Wawona Ranch and Wawona Packing.

"Instead of growing peaches, we want to grow people," said Founding Pastor of Well Community Church Brad Bell.

The church is located down the street on Maple and Nees. He knew all about the Smittcamp scholarship at Fresno State, even the $10 million donations Bob Smittcamp's family recently made to Community Regional Medical Center.

A few months ago the pastor pitched his own proposal.

"So what we said is hey, you have invested so much in education and healthcare. We'd like to come at it from another side. What if we invest in the spiritual life of the next generation. We're dealing with a generation that is lacking hope," said Bell.

He sees the 50-acre parcel which includes the historic home and carousel as not only the future site of the Well Church but a place where young people can gather.

"So green space, recreational space, outdoor airnasiums like a gym without walls," said Bell.

The parcel located across the street from Buchanan High is worth about $18 million. Bell was surprised to learn his prayer would be answered by the Smittcamp family.

"It's a partnership together and the family's been exceedingly generous with us. We're working out the final details of that. But for us the family's been kind enough to partner with us in developing this property," said Bell.
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