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Holiday tour will feature gay couple's abode

by Charlie Wagner

A gay couple with two babies will open their just-remodeled mid-century home Saturday, December 9, for the 47th annual Alameda Holiday Home Tour. The tour includes four other architecturally interesting homes, decorated for the holidays, and is organized by the volunteer fundraising auxiliary for the Alameda Family Services agency.

Besides the home tour, the event will have a boutique for gift and holiday decor shopping, a gourmet shop for baked goods, candies and specialty food items, and a holiday tea at Alameda's First Presbyterian Church.

Nathan and Gabin Wu-Falkenborg decided to offer their home on the tour less than a year after becoming parents of twin girls Lily and Rosi.

Their involvement with AFS started when they moved to Alameda in late 2016 as they were planning their family. Their immediate neighbor turned out to be Alysse Castro, president of the 14-member AFS board of directors. Nathan Wu-Falkenborg, 41, described how he had talked to Castro and her husband soon after moving in and heard a tentative request to host the tour in "the next 20 years or so."

But the Wu-Falkenborgs are an exceptionally organized couple and after careful thought told Castro, "Let's go for it this year." Gabin Wu-Falkenborg, 34, laughingly attributed their organizational skills to their shared background in data analytics.

"We rely on our family and neighbors a lot more now," Nathan Wu-Falkenborg said, "and we see the home tour as an opportunity to give back."

Tour organizers will post five docents in their home, allowing them to tour the other houses and enjoy the holiday tea.

The couple first met seven years ago at a party in Singapore, where Nathan Wu-Falkenborg was working for an international company. They were married in July 2013 in San Francisco while still living in Singapore.

Gabin Wu-Falkenborg is a native of Singapore and speaks many languages, with English his second language. His mother worked for a French company when he was growing up so he is fluent in French and his first name is French in origin. He works in quality compliance at Genentech.

They moved to Alameda to be closer to family. Nathan Wu-Falkenborg's parents and sister live in Alameda and both men are close to their families.

"You can't raise children alone," Nathan Wu-Falkenborg said. "My parents live within walking distance and come over almost every day."

Remodeling project
For their remodel, Nathan Wu-Falkenborg described how they worked with an architectural designer who specialized in mid-century homes. Their house was built in the early 1960s and they believe it was once a "party house" as they found a disco ball hanging from the ceiling in the largest room. The house also had two built-in bars and numerous outdoor tiki torches connected to the gas line.

He itemized how they changed the wall colors, flooring, light fixtures, wiring and pipes, made some small structural changes, and added solar panels. The kitchen is entirely new but the house still looks mid-century from end to end. And the disco ball is no more.

Their house is in the South Shore section of Alameda, adjacent to one of five connected, man-made lagoons and fed by saltwater from San Francisco Bay. The lagoon system supports wildlife as diverse as egrets, cranes, herons, ducks, and geese as well as providing storm drainage and treatment ponds. Their back yard overlooking the water has the feeling of a peaceful resort.

The couple both expressed how much they look forward to the day of the tour.

"It's nice to connect with our community with and without our kids," Nathan Wu-Falkenborg said. "And the people we've met have been lovely."

AFS is one of the few social service providers in Alameda whose programs aim to improve the emotional, psychological, and physical health of children, youth, and families who live on the East Bay island city. Its main programs include Head Start/Early Head Start, school-linked services, behavioral health care services, family support services and Dreamcatcher homeless youth services. Forty percent of Dreamcatcher clients are LGBTQ, estimated tour publicity coordinator Winkie Campbell-Notar, who is a volunteer.

"This fundraiser is especially important," said Campbell-Notar, "because so much of our funding is based on reimbursement. With these unrestricted funds, we can start programs while we wait for grant funding and take care of immediate needs."

She estimated the home tour will raise about $45,000.

Campbell-Notar talked about the many AFS goals, a feeling shared by her husband, Ernie Notar, who is also an AFS board member.

"We cover funding gaps in local schools," she said. "So many children will benefit from the mental health services AFS will provide with the funds we are raising."

Tickets for the Alameda Holiday Home Tour are $35 in advance or $40 the day of the event. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit http://alamedaholidayhometour.com/.

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