April 20, 2024 12:22 pm

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New Lynnwood Neighborhood Center to begin construction this April

LYNNWOOD—Volunteers of America’s new Lynnwood Neighborhood Center is set to begin construction this upcoming April 15 which will serve over 20,000 community members annually, from the most vulnerable needing support to at-risk children and youth.

Lynnwood Neighborhood Center
Volunteers of America Western Washington interim CEO Brian Smith (right) thanking Representative Rick Larsen (left) for securing $3 million of federal funding for the Lynnwood Neighborhood Center at Monday’s celebration. Source: Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

“The Lynnwood Neighborhood Center is a true partnership between the faith community, the local businesses, the local community members and the state and local government” said Representative Cindy Ryu (D-Shoreline).

Located at 6330 195th Street Southwest in Lynnwood, the Center will also serve as a vibrant hub where neighbors can meet, learn, and serve, building, and sustaining, safe, stable, and healthy communities for generations to come. Phase I of the project, which encompassed site preparation, reached completion back in 2019.

“I am thrilled to be a part of a project that addresses so many of the needs in south Snohomish County. We knew that the challenges our communities would face coming out of the pandemic would not look the same as they once did and our team has done an incredible job designing the Lynnwood Neighborhood Center as a response to that,” said Brian Smith, President and CEO of Volunteers of America Western Washington.

The nonprofit corporation—which assists with food banks, rent and utility assistance, crisis counseling, mediation, and ECEAP preschool—plans to kick off a Community Fundraising Campaign at the beginning of construction this spring with the goal of raising $2.5 million to ensure the project will be debt free open opening. This would allow non-profit partners below maker lease rates, Kristi Meyers, Chief Operations Officer for VOA, told the Lynnwood Times.

The VOA Lynnwood Neighborhood Center is a collaboration between Volunteers of America, Trinity Lutheran Church, renown author and travel writer Rick Steves, and the Greater South Snohomish County community at large.

Lynnwood Neighborhood Center
Artist rendition of the Lynnwood Neighborhood Center. Source: Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

When the center opens up by June of 2025, it will house a VOA Community Resource Center, medical, dental and behavioral health clinics, an early childcare education and assistance program (ECEAP) rreschool, a boys and girls club, technology lab, adult day programs, community events and gatherings, culturally specific programs, refugee and iimmigrant assistance, a commercial kitchen and café, and classes, trainings and workshops.

“I’m all over this project because it is the very, very, best investment as a community we can do in so many ways,” said Rick Steves, “local business owner and enthusiastic donor, “It’s an opportunity for different dimensions of our society, of our community to come together.”

Although Volunteers of America was founded in 1896, it didn’t open its Northern Washington branch in Everett until 1915. For the last 108 years the nonprofit has assisted those living in north Snohomish County but for residents living in south county this left a desert for social service accessibility.

For example, out of 1,286 ranked schools in Washington, Cedar Valley Community School (which is located just 1.5 miles from the upcoming Lynnwood Neighborhood Center site) is ranked 180th for total students on lunch assistance. Additionally, the percentage of Cedar Valley Community School students on free and reduced lunch assistance (79.5%) is significantly higher than the state average of 47.3%, indicating the area has a higher level of poverty than state average, according to Meyers.

Lynnwood Neighborhood Center
Artist rendition of the Lynnwood Neighborhood Center. Source: Architecture Resource Collaborative (arc)

The Lynnwood Neighborhood Center will provide an accessible hub of services and programs to serve Lynnwood, Edmonds, Shoreline, and communities across the area.

“I think the goal of having this facility is to empower families. To help them access these services so they can take care of themselves,” said CJ Gray, former principal of Cedar Valley Community School. “This area is right in the hub, the most important part of Lynnwood and the highest needs part of Lynnwood.”

Community members in the area have expressed a need for more gathering spaces, low-cost medical and dental as well as behavioral health support, and opportunities for children, kids, and young adults. The Lynnwood Neighborhood Center is anticipated to address the need of all of these services.

“For some of the kids, it may be the safest place they have. It could be that place that makes a difference between a kid having hope or becoming hopeless,” said David Greenlee with Trinity Lutheran Church.

The upcoming Lynnwood Neighborhood Center’s outcome-driven programs, services and partnerships will focus on five key priority areas to fill gaps in social determinants of health in the community: economic stability, access to quality education for children and youth, access to quality health care, neighborhood and built environment, and social and community context.

Lynnwood Neighborhood Center
Dr. Steve Woodard, Vice President of Community Engagement for VOAWW speaking at Monday’s celebratory event. SOURCE: Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

It will help people achieve economic stability by providing wrap-around preventative services that empower families towards self-efficacy and generational wealth development, Myers said. This includes support for food, childcare, accessing affordable housing, tenant-landlord dispute resolution, and job training.

The center will provide access to quality education for children and youth by providing free and affordable educational opportunities and supportive youth development for early learners through adolescents, with a focus on communities that have faced historically disproportionate barriers to educations. It will also provide access to quality health care by helping people access timely, high-quality health, dental and, behavioral health care services at convenient onsite clinics.

Lynnwood Neighborhood Center
Snohomish County Councilwoman presenting VOAWW with a $1 million check towards the completion of the Lynnwood Neighborhood Center. (L-R) Pictured are Wally Webster II, former Rep. Ruth Kagi, Pastor Hector Garfias-Toldeo of Trinity Lutheran Church, Councilwoman Stephanie Wright, Steering Committee member Mr. Witta, VOAWW President/CEO Steve Corsi, Mindy Woods, Denny Derrickson, Sandy Schneider, and VOAWW COO Brian Smith. Others in attendance but not pictured are VOAWW Vice President of External Affairs Kirk Pearson and Mountlake Terrance Councilman and VOAWW Vice President of Community Engagement Dr. Steve Woodard. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

The LNC will address neighborhood and built environment by providing a safe, easily accessed, and centrally located gathering place where all are welcome while expanding access to public space communities who have faced disproportionate barriers to access, such as BIPOC and low-income communities. The Lynnwood Neighborhood Center will also serve as a venue for community arts and cultural celebrations.

And lastly, the Center will address social and community context by developing a sense of community where people from all walks of life find social support and positive interactions.

The Neighborhood Center will be a 40,000 square-foot Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified facility on 2.13 acres of land in central Lynnwood. The design is intended to be flexible enough to change as community needs evolve for generations to come.

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