Renton leaders, partners and Doug Baldwin took time to reflect on the approaching construction of the Family First Community Center and honor the journey it took to get there. The center land-use notice now stands outside Cascade Elementary School, posted after several years of work raising funds and finding partners.
An honorary ribbon cutting at the site for the new Family First Community Center was held Saturday, Oct. 26. Though not the official groundbreaking, it was a chance for Mayor Denis Law and Council President Don Persson to be a part of that celebration. Law and Persson are retiring from their leadership positions before construction starts in Spring 2020.
“This is a symbolic ribbon cutting to let people know we are officially moving forward with the Family First Community Center,” Law said.
Community Services Administrator Kelly Beymer, Mayor Denis Law, Doug Baldwin, Renton School District Superintendent Damien Pattenaude, HealthPoint CEO Tom Trompeter, Council President Don Persson, First Financial Northwest Foundation Board Chair and retired judge Charles Delaurenti and school board Chair Pam Teal spoke during the program.
Law talked about facing the $15 million plan and trying to create partnerships to support it. He discussed the city council putting $4 million towards the center, the school board offering district land for the project and the contributions of Renton partners. Many donors attended, ranging from local individuals to larger corporations.
“Doug and I still have a few dollars to raise, but it is going to be built,” Law said.
Baldwin also talked about working with Law, and joked that the mayor would be handling the remaining costs. The community center is starting construction in the spring, but they still need to raise about $5 million to reach their funding goal.
Baldwin thanked all in attendance for creating a center that will provide for generations of families to come. He said he’s learned that to do anything great, it takes a team. He contributed $1 million to the project, leads the Family First Community Center Foundation and continues to meet potential partners and donors for the center. In his introduction, Beymer said Baldwin’s passion for the center is remarkable. Baldwin also thanked his wife Tara Sabourin for supporting him.
Pattenaude spoke, thanking Cascade Principal Rachel Lockhart, Deputy Superintendent Shannon Harvey and Facilities Project Manager Matt Feldmeyer for their work on the center. He said with Baldwin’s passion for the project, there’s no surprise how much of the community is involved.
“When we cut out the politics and bureaucracy, we can do great things for kids and do great things for this community,” Pattenaude said. “I think this is an example of what we can do in Renton in general: when we come together for the right issue, vision, passion and commitment we can cut through the layers and get great things done.”
Persson also spoke about the partnerships, and said even if some say the district and city don’t get along, they’ve been partnering on projects like this over his term on council, the last 20 years, and longer.
HealthPoint, the company that will be providing resources at the center, started in Renton. At the ribbon cutting, Trompeter quoted the late Congressman Elijah Cummings: “Our children are the living messengers to a future we will not see.” He said that this center was an example of helping kids and families in the future.
One of the main donors, First Financial Northwest Foundation, contributed $3 million to moving the project forward. Renton Rotary contributed $94,000, and then an additional $25,000.
“One of the things I’ve learned in 12 years of office here is we have the most generous community you will see anywhere, and the business community is exactly that,” Law said.
Renton City Councilmembers, Renton School Board of Directors, a representative from the state legislature, the various partners who donated to the Family First Community Center and families from Cascade Elementary School were also in attendance. A parent of Cascade Elementary School provided a free lunch courtesy of C. Davis Texas BBQ.
School District Board Director and Chair Teal asked everyone to look at the rendering of the Family First Center that was displayed next to the speaker’s podium.
“Just stop and gaze at that rendering of the facility, of what’s going to be on this land, and think about how many students that are going to be impacted, the fun they will have, the health care they’ll get. It’s all because of the people standing here,” she said.