By James Tabafunda
Northwest Asian Weekly
When an organization wants things done right, members sometimes find that doing things themselves may ultimately prove to be the best option.
Seattle Goodwill students have attended classes in a building that has needed several costly repairs over the decades. There are two things that especially hinder their ability to learn, improper air conditioning and no windows.
Ken Colling, Seattle Goodwill president and chief executive officer, said, “Right now, it can get extremely hot in the summertime and actually in the wintertime, too, because basically, our heating system there is either real hot or turned off.”
When the $300 million Dearborn Street Project was abandoned in 2009, Seattle Goodwill executives realized their plans for a new four-story, 120,000-square-foot building near Little Saigon in the International District abruptly ended. They would not be getting their much-needed building as part of a 600,000-square-foot development at the northwest corner of South Dearborn Street and Rainier Avenue South.
The project’s developer and president of Ravenhurst Development, Darrell Vange, said at the time, “So, no investors, no lenders, no project.”
Michael Jurich, Seattle Goodwill vice president and chief financial officer, said in an Oct. 18 interview, “From a site development standpoint, we immediately launched into an evaluation of what do we do next.”
Last July, Seattle Goodwill executives announced their plans to build their own $14 million, three-story, 48,000-square-foot building.
“We did talk to developers who came out of the woodwork when they heard that the Ravenhurst and TRF deal fell through,” Jurich admitted. “The climate was not conducive of having another development offer or deal right then. So, we did learn through that process that we’re going to need to do something ourselves if we want to move forward with any kind of replacement of facilities.”
The new building will increase Seattle Goodwill’s capacity and will allow it to provide more free services to those seeking the organization’s help.
It will also feature LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification, a designation administered by the U.S. Green Building Council. “We’re going to use the rainwater to fill a cistern, and we’ll be using the cisterns for restroom flushing and some irrigation along the building,” Jurich said.
It will have two floors of office space for its instructors and administrative staff. All administrative personnel currently work south of Seattle Goodwill’s Dearborn campus in the South Downtown district.
The organization’s Dearborn campus will also have 38 new parking spaces within its two lots.
During the last fiscal year, which ended on June 30, Seattle Goodwill served 3,488 people at its nine job-training centers in Washington state. The total number of people enrolled in its adult basic education class was 8,136.
Seventy-two percent of its students are people of color. They come from 107 different countries, and they speak 96 different languages. Also, 62 percent live below the federal poverty level.
Scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2013, the new building will allow the organization to expand its core mission of providing job-training and education. “We’re adding two classrooms, going from eight to 10, so not only will the classroom count increase, but we’ll also have a greater capacity [to help] over time,” Jurich pointed out. “The building itself will support double the job-training staff.”
The Seattle Goodwill store, training center, and donation center will stay open as construction crews do their work. The recent demolition of a few existing structures along Rainier Avenue South allows the next phase of construction to begin.
Colling says Seattle Goodwill hopes, someday in the future, to have a project that includes “additional, affordable housing and retail that would support the community around us.”
The best way for the general public to support Seattle Goodwill, according to Colling, is to spread the word about the quality of its programs and that its stores are great places to shop to find great deals.
“We do our absolute best, and we always focus on this. It’s to get the most value out of what they donate to us. Stewardship is a key value we have.”
Supporters of Seattle Goodwill are encouraged to attend the 4th Glitter Gala at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel on November 9 at 6:00 p.m. They are also invited to the 28th Annual Glitter Sale at the Dearborn Street store on November 12 and 13 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
“It (the Glitter Sale) draws a lot of people, and we’re very, very happy about that,” Colling said. (end)
James Tabafunda can be reached at email@example.com.