Family First Community Center opens June 26

Vision for the Cascade/Benson Hill facility came from former Seattle Seahawks player Doug Baldwin; Tours are available this month.

The Family First Community Center in Renton is close to opening its doors to the community.

Bringing a plethora of recreational, educational, and health and well-being programs and services to Renton’s Cascade/Benson Hill Neighborhood, the project is nearing fruition.

The facility will serve to fill gaps in services the neighborhood did not previously have including a recreational center along with dental, medical and behavioral health clinics, according to Family First Community Center Foundation Executive Director Jackie Montgomery. With all of its resources, the Family First Community Center is one of the first facilities of its kind in the state and likely one of the first in the nation, Montgomery added.

Vision for the Family First Community Center Foundation came from former Seattle Seahawks player and current Renton resident Doug Baldwin, who noticed the Cascade/Benson Hill Neighborhood was missing a recreation center for youth and families in the area to enjoy and play at when not in school.

Montgomery said the over 21,000 square-foot “state-of-the-art” facility will have community rooms for gathering, activities space for card games, billiards and video games, basketball and volleyball courts, a dance studio, a fitness center and gym, and a dance studio. It includes a test kitchen to teach and promote healthy cooking, and a science, technology, engineering and math lab for STEM educational programming.

Montgomery said with the Family First Community Center’s location adjacent to Cascade Elementary School, the center will partner with the school district to use the STEM lab as an extension of the classroom curriculum. She said the STEM space will have 3D printers and touchscreen telecasters that function as a giant iPad for use in teaching and learning.

Renton School District spokesperson Randy Matheson said the district is still figuring out exactly how the STEM lab, which he referred to as the “makerspace” will be used by students and teachers.

“We’re still working through how we’ll share the educational space with Family First staff which could include STEM opportunities and access to the makerspace areas during school hours,” Matheson said. “Makerspace uses hands-on materials and allows students the creativity and critical thinking to build and explore.”

Montgomery said the Family First Community Center benefits from several partnerships with community organizations such as Healthpoint, which will provide healthcare service on-site. She said the Family First Community Center will be the first recreation center in the state to also have dental, medical and behavioral health services on-site, and even a small on-site pharmacy.

Montgomery said the design and ideas for what the Family First Community Center has become were informed by the community with hundreds of meetings with community members and partners about what services and amenities were needed to best benefit the neighborhood.

The facility at 16200 116th Ave. SE is open for tours and visits from 4-8 p.m. Tuesday, May 23 and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, May 25. A welcoming ceremony is from 4:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, June 16 and an opening ceremony is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, June 26.

According to Montgomery, the Family First Community Center will be open intermittently with limited hours during the summer before extending its hours when the 2023-24 school year begins.

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