Category Archives: Community

In Alajawan’s Hands: South Seattle Mother Keeps Her Son’s Memory Alive

by Marcus Harrison Green

 

Ayanna Brown
Ayanna Brown

“I still talk to him every morning. I say: Mama loves you.” Ayanna Brown shares as she delicately grasp a branch belonging to the Japanese Maple tree she and her husband planted in memory of her son Alajawan.

The 12 year old boy tragically had his life whisked away from him fours years ago walking from a bus stop near the Skyway 7-11 on Martin Luther King Jr Way  and 129th street, when Curtis Walker –  a member of the street gang The Bloods – mistook him for a rival and fired four shots directly at Alajawan. The only one to strike his body punctured his lungs, eventually leaving him dead in one of the convenience store’s parking stalls, just a few feet away from where the tree now flourishes in an adjoining enclosure.

“You know that tree isn’t even supposed to be here, that’s what the woman who dug the hole for it said. It’s some sort of miracle that it’s even there.” She says as she makes her way around the parking lot, retracing the steps from the  last few moments of her son’s life, coming ever closer to where she saw his body laying those four frightful years ago.

What is equally miraculous is how she is able to roam around the parking lot as if it were nothing but an extension of her living room. The site would more than likely trigger a hail of horrendous memories for most in her situation, but Ayanna has become a permanent fixture of the 7-11, so much so that her presence has become as synonymous with the store as its sporadically operational Slurpee machine .

“It says no loitering.” she chuckles, referring to the sign adhered to the store’s main window that is positioned just low enough for the cashier working inside to be able to acknowledge her with a wave and a smile as she journys around the former crime scene.“I’ve never paid any attention to it though.”

These frequent sojourns are her way of keeping connected to Alajawan, as she continues to cope with his passing. The time clock associated with the grief she feels for burying her youngest child, before he barely scratched life’s potential, has no hands attached to it.

“The Fourth of July is torture for me, all the helicopters, ambulances and fire trucks… it all makes me think back to that day when I lost him. My favorite show used to be CSI, but I can’t watch it anymore because of the autopsies. I just see his face every time. It never gets any easier for me. You just try to get acclimated to the feeling that he’s gone the best you can.”

While her son’s loss still haunts her, it also continues to resonate within the community of Skyway where her precocious 12 year old seemed the frontrunner for mayor had his age not prevented him from being electable.

Alajawan
Alajawan Brown

“He gave up his Saturday mornings to tutor younger kids at a math academy. He would feed people he would see outside of the stores begging for food. He would actually go inside the store and buy food for them with his own money, so they would not go hungry. He would save up to buy his own school supplies so that me and his father didn’t have to. He loved Skyway, and said he always wanted to make a difference here” she says as her mind savors nectarous recollections.

While it would have been understandable for her to have departed the area immediately after Alajawan’s death, forsaking it in the wake of tragedy, Ayanna has credited the Skyway Community for gifting her with strength during ghastly times.

“The people of this community have really rallied around me. I believe in the people who live here in the Skyway/West area. As tragic as Alajawan’s death was, I really don’t think any other community or neighborhood anywhere would have given me and my family the love that we received here.”

She realizes the surprise her statement might cause those whose familiarity with the Skyway area is limited to what currently passes for news coverage on the neighborhood.

“I’m not saying that we don’t have our problems, but so does Bellevue. From my own experience, the majority of the (violence and crime) that happens in Skyway is perpetuated by people who don’t live here. They bring their drama from their respective communities and leave the residents here to deal with the consequences and take the blame.”

She hopes to return all the support that she’s received from the community, while keeping her son’s memory alive, via the Alajawan Brown Foundation- operating as Alajawan’s hands- which besides offering tutoring services to area elementary aged children, provides Thanksgiving dinners to those residents who would starve on the holiday, and organizes a back-to- school supply drive that will be kicking off later today at the Sam’s Club in Renton.

In addition, the foundation offers scholarships to those children who would otherwise be unable to participate in youth sporting activities – including football, Alajawan’s favorite sport- because of the often prohibitive fees associated with them. Of all the charitable enterprises that the foundation participates in, it is this offering that Ayanna seems most proud.

“Before he passed away he wanted to play football. The season was four months away and the  fee to participate was $160. Me and his father were going to try to scrape it together, but he told us not to worry about it. He would pay for it himself. The day after he died we found a budget in his room that he had worked out. He had figured out that he had needed to make $40 dollars a month, and he had planned out how many lawns he needed to mow in order to reach his goal.”

“All this work that we’re doing with the foundation is really nothing but continuing on with what he was doing with his life, giving people opportunities that he wanted for himself and others. He would always tell me, ‘Mom, I want to make a difference. That’s my dream, and dreams never die if you don’t let them.” She continues.

“I refuse to let my baby’s memory die. I refuse to allow him to be just another dead black male. He’s not going to be just another statistic as long as I’m breathing.”

As she passes the Japanese Maple one last time before she gets ready to depart from the 7-11 parking lot, only to reconvene there with it again tomorrow, she can’t help but reflect on the trees tenacity. “Yeah, they said that he wouldn’t survive because his roots were too close to the cement in the ground, but  look at him now. He’s thriving anyway!”

If you would like to donate to the Alajawan’s Hands back to school drive you can drop off school supplies today between the hours of 9:00am and 3:00pm  at the Sam’s Club located at 901 S Grady Way, Renton, WA 98057. You can also deposit your school supply donations at any Puget Sound area Wendy’s collection box until August 20th. You can contact Alajawan’s Hands directly at http://www.alajawanshands.com.

Jolly Greeters Invade Rainier Beach

Corner Greeters

Rainier Beach residents have been growing accustomed to the welcome sight of jovial  faces greeting them along their daily treks through the neighborhood.

Corner Greeters, a project initiated by the Seattle Neighborhood Group as a part of Rainier Beach: A Beautiful Safe Place for Youth, places pop-up greeter stations throughout the area in places that have been designated as high crime spots.

The objectives of the stations are to encourage social engagement amongst community members, and deter future incidences of crime.

Along with smiles, the Greeters- who include community volunteers- provide public safety and legal information to passers by in addition to trinkets that match the theme of a particular station. Last week’s “Kindness Blossoms” station at the Rose Street Mini-Park, saw over 70 curious community members depart with flowers in hand and a better appreciation for the steps being taken to promote peace and unity within the neighborhood.

Corner Greeter events will be taking place over the next four weeks between 3:30 and 5:30pm at the following locations:

Wednesday, July 30th: Peace Revolutions at Mapes Creek Walkway Plaza (Near Saars)

Wednesday, August 6th: Fold In Peace at Intersection of S.Henderson and MLK Way South

Wednesday, August 13th: Peace Putts at Rainier Beach Safeway Parking Lot

Wednesday, August 20th: Harambee Drumming Circle at Rainier & Henderson Plaza

For more information on becoming a volunteer greeter you can visit: http://doodle.com/4eenicqnzbznewkg

Pianos In South Seattle Parks

At an event in Othello Park last Thursday, Seattle Parks and Recreation, King County Parks, Laird Norton Wealth Management, and local arts and business organizations collaborated to launch Pianos in the Parks, by unveiling an elaborately adorned vintage piano.

The Pianos in the Parks campaign placed 20 decorated pianos in parks around the greater Seattle area, including the southend’s own Othello Park and Rainier Beach Plaza, in hopes of encouraging residents to explore green and open spaces while enjoying each others’ art.

“We are delighted to host the pianos at our city parks, Seattle Center and City Hall plaza,” Mayor Murray said. “Pianos in the Parks will enliven our parks and engage communities through the power of art and music.”

“We are thrilled to host this positive and innovative way to bring more people into our parks and to listen to music for all to enjoy,” said Christopher Williams, Acting Superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation.

The pianos were procured and donated by Classic Pianos and will be available in the parks until Aug. 17. Members of the public are invited to play the pianos and can upload videos of their park performances to the Pianos in the Parks Facebook page for a chance to play at KEXP’s and Seattle Center’s “Concerts at the Mural” on Friday, Aug. 22.

The Facebook entries that receive the highest number of “likes” will be judged by a community panel and a winner will be selected.

At the end of the campaign, the pianos will be sold to the highest bidder in an online auction on http://www.pianosintheparks.com. Proceeds from the pianos sales will benefit Seattle Parks and Recreation, King County Parks, Seattle Symphony, KEXP and Gage Academy of Art.

For more information about Pianos in the Parks scheduled activities, participating parks/open spaces and full contest information, please visit: http://www.pianosintheparks.com. To tag contest entries, pictures and experiences, use the hashtag #PianosintheParks and send your photos to @seattleparks on Twitter.

Mayor Walking to “Find It, Fix It” in Rainier Beach

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s “Find it, Fix it” Community Walk series, which focuses on several crime hotspots, will be making its way to Rainier Beach this upcoming Tuesday.

The walks – announced last month-  have featured community residents, police, and city officials walking together to identify and find solutions to physical disorder.

The two walks already conducted have seen great success with a 40 percent rise in use of the Find It, Fix It application and identification, notification and action taken on graffiti removal, street lighting, litter and garbage clean-up, along with trimming overgrown bushes and trees.

 

    Rainier Beach Find It, Fix It Community Walk

Tuesday, July 22, 7 – 9 p.m.

Rainier Beach Station Plaza

Martin Luther King Jr Way and S. Henderson St.

Meet in the plaza (Map)

Full itinerary can be viewed here

SEED to Host Southend Area Golf Tournament

Golf

Long-time affordable housing, arts, and economic development nonprofit, Southeast Effective Development (SEED), announced today that it will be holding its 1st Annual Golf Tournament on August 15th.

This year, the tournament will be raising funds to support SEEDArts.  SEEDArts is a non-profit program of South East Effective Development and is the driving force behind the creation of SE Seattle’s two main arts/cultural facilities: the Rainier Valley Cultural Center, our region’s first performing arts center; and the Columbia City Gallery, a cooperative featuring the works of 30 local visual artists.

The SEED Golf Tournament will be held on August 15, 2014 at the beautiful Jefferson Golf Course with an 8:00 am shotgun start and lunch to follow.

The tournament format will be a 4-player team scramble. This will be a fun-filled affair for golfers and non-golfers alike while supporting a great cause.

The cost for this event is $150.00 per player which will include golf, lunch and tons of gifts and prizes. In addition there are many sponsorship categories that include playing spots and opportunities for advertising.

For more information contact Brian Remington of Golf Solutions, Tournament Director at (206) 432-9014 or brian@golfcorpsolutions.com

Activists Call For More Investment in Education, Not Incarceration

EducationTwo rallies this morning, both organized by the Alliance for a Just Society, will issue powerful calls for more government investment in education – not incarceration.

At least 300 community leaders, and activists at each gathering will call for freedom from crushing student loan debt, and freedom from jailing children.

The rallies are part of the Alliance’s Power from the Roots Up conference being held this week on the University of Washington campus. Organizers, grassroots activists, and small business owners from 14 states are attending the conference.

Nationwide Seattle is often seen as ground zero in the movement to combat income inequality and to build power through grassroots activism.

The first rally today will be held from 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. at the Federal Building, Second Avenue and Marion Street, to demand that the Department of Education, Sallie Mae and corporate bankers stop profiting off the backs of college students.

Speakers will talk about their student loan debt, the crowd will help “grade” the Department of Education on a giant report card, then several participants will deliver petitions to the DOE office in the Federal Building.

“As an educator, what I see my students experiencing is extremely troubling,” said Louisa Edgerly, an adjunct instructor at Seattle University, and one of the speakers at the rally.

“Schoolwork is suffering because of the long hours and multiple jobs students are working to afford college,” she said. “I’m concerned about the potential narrowing of career options due to their debt load upon graduation, and the urgency to take any job so they can make their payments.”
The second event Friday, calling on the King County Council to scrap plans for a $210 million juvenile detention center, starts at 11 a.m. outside the King County Courthouse, 516 Third Avenue. Experts say community-based restorative justice programs have much higher success rates than simply jailing children.

“Young people today need more positive people in our ears reminding us what to do and what not to do. I feel like there should just be more mothering and fathering and mentoring instead of a new youth jail,” said Rashaud Johnson, with EPIC – End the Prison Industrial Complex – one of the organizations participating in the rally.

 

Cierra Sisters Presents: The 2014 Wellness Festival

Cierra Sisters’ Wellness Festival & Block Walk is a free health and wellness event serving the South Seattle community. Highlights of the event include: breast cancer screenings – via the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Mobile Mammovan, diabetes screenings, free dental cleanings, educational speakers, and door-to-door information delivery in the community.

Speakers will include Dr. Patricia Dawson from Swedish Medical Center and Drs.Beti Thompson, Scott Ramsey and Kerryn Reding from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The speakers will discuss breast and colon cancers, mammography, the value of cancer care, and the latest research in diet and exercise.

Event Details

Date:    July 12, 2014

Time:   Mobile Mammovan: 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Wellness Festival: 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Location:Rainier Community Center, 4600 38th Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98118

For mammogram appointments, please call 206-288-7800. Funding is available from the Breast, Cervical, and Colon Health Program and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to provide exams for women without insurance. Please inquire about a sponsored mammogram when scheduling your appointment.

Cierra Sisters, Inc. is an African-American breast cancer survivor and support organization that offers knowledge and power against the effects of breast cancer to our African-American women and men, members, and survivors affected in our community by various types of cancer and illness. Our community outreach is designed to increase awareness and importance of early detection and treatment for breast and other cancers in order to save the lives of our sisters and community members.

To learn more visit www.cierrasisters.org, or call – 206-505-9194.

New Holly to Open Farm Stand This Week

Farm StandsThe New Holly Farm Stand opens this Friday, July 11th and will offer fresh organic produce picked right from the P-Patch market gardens. Grown by low-income gardeners, the produce that is fresh right now is spinach, carrots, leafy vegetables, new onions, peas, turnips, and radishes, to name a few. The farm stand will operate every Friday, until September 26th, between the  hours of 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The farm stand accepts EBT cards and participate in Fresh Bucks which doubles consumers’ first $10 spent on the card.

Seattle P-Patch Market Gardens is a program of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods P-Patch Community Gardening Program in collaboration with Seattle Housing Authority and GROW to support low-income gardeners and their neighborhoods. Its mission is to establish safe, healthy communities and economic opportunity through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and farm stand enterprises.

 

To learn more, visit seattle.gov/neighborhoods/ppatch/marketgardens/.

 

The Movies Come To Skyway

by Marcus Harrison Green

Fans express their affection for the Skyway Outdoor Cinema.
Fans express their affection for the Skyway Outdoor Cinema.

If the image of neighbors camped outside under starlit sky – sprawled over transplanted home furnishings while gorging on popcorn, and participating in a collective chorus of oohs and awes conducted by a recent Hollywood blockbuster – seems a sight capable only in one of the idiosyncratic enclaves belonging to the northern end of our fair city, then you may want to watch your step for stray shards of shattered assumptions, as South Seattle readies for its own brand of outdoor film fun.

Later this summer, the Skyway neighborhood will play host to the community run – and eponymously titled- Skyway Outdoor Cinema (SOC) – a cinema series that will commence August 1st – in the U.S. Bank parking lot behind the 7-Eleven on Renton Avenue and 76th – with a showing of Despicable Me 2, and run three successive Fridays thereafter – finishing up August 22nd with Frozen.

Stewarded for over a decade by the volunteer operated West Hill Community Association (WHCA) – previously known as the West Hill Community Council (WHCC) – SOC was originally founded to provide a free, family oriented event that served as a much needed opportunity for engagement amongst community members.

A series of obstacles, including the lack of a thriving business district from which to draw sponsors, the challenge of uniting a disparate fan base and coordinating extensive fundraising efforts led to a reliance on grant funds to maintain a basic level of operation for the first thirteen seasons of the event.

With King County dissolving Unincorporated Area Councils in 2011 in response to budgetary concerns – resulting in a loss of guaranteed annual funding for the WHCC and a forced reorganization resulting in the newly rebranded WHCA – plus dwindling available grant funds, SOC decided to take a new approach. The new strategy, begun last season, is one that uses design and social media to increase its connection with fans and a more sustainable approach to its operating budget. By harnessing the power of its fans with crowdfunding and making smart purchases that eliminated the need to rent expensive equipment year after year – reducing basic operating costs- the event added a higher level of stability and increased its potential for growth.

Now in its second phase of life, the organizers of the open air cinema have redoubled their efforts in utilizing the event to galvanize the entire West Hill Community – which includes the neighborhoods of Skyway, Lakeridge, Bryn Mawr, Campbell Hill, Earlington, Hilltop, Panorama View, and Skycrest – providing a centralized gathering locale that functions as an incubator of community, and that otherwise wouldn’t exist. Something that – according to locals – has been long overdue in the area.

“I think everyone is really tired of Skyway getting such a bad rap. Most people simply absorb what they hear on the news, but those assumptions really aren’t rooted and fact and experience. I think that not only hurts our image outside of our community, but I think it affects us as neighbors as well. We want to provide a fun, free, safe family environment for people to really learn what their community’s all about – I think we deserve that.” said Devin Chicras, WHCA board member and co-organizer of the cinema – in addition to moonlighting as the event’s Master of Ceremonies, Diligent Custodian, Technical Support, and Amiable Attendant Greeter during its film screenings.

With that goal in mind, organizers have made great strides in improving their marketing efforts to attract a much larger swath of the community. Chicras, along with co-organizer Mary Goebel, have worked hard on implementing the new strategy for SOC, which included heavily promoting the event on social media platforms and improving visitors’ experience at every level from engaging pre-show entertainment to free raffle prizes and keeping all concession items under a dollar.

By all measures, these new efforts appear to be working, as not only did attendance double last year, but the event has also enticed people from as far away as Burien and Des Moines to spend their Friday nights in Skyway.

Not bad for an area whose own residents, not all that long ago, barely wanted to set foot on its pavement. “It’s incredible to see this little parking lot in Skyway fill up with all these folks, having fun, talking to their neighbors, eating popcorn or having Domino’s delivered to them while seated on lawn chairs, detached minivan seats, or sprawled out picnic-style on a blanket. These are the people you see sometimes walking down the street, in the store, waiting at the bus stop. And now they’re here, like one big family. At 10pm behind a 7-Eleven in Skyway. It’s truly surreal, and completely inspiring.” Says Chicras.

Communal appreciation could not have come at a better time, as in the ensuing years since losing the majority of its funding, the event has had to rely more heavily on contributions from those living around the area. A dependency that appears quite secure, as the cinema was recently able to purchase a brand new audiovisual system, directly as a result of local generosity.

Costing a little under $7000, The A/V system – which will allow for a larger film projection, along with improved sound and picture quality more in line with traditional cinematic experiences – seemed out of reach for event organizers, as they received only a $3000 Community Engagement Grant from King County towards its purchase. Unsure of how they would make up the difference Chicras and Goebel turned to the community via a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.

“We only needed $3975 and ended up getting $4320! We were absolutely blown away by the generosity of our community.” said Chicras. The additional funds will be used to supplement SOC’s already meager budget, as it has never turned a profit, nor sought to – its primary mission remaining to build connections between residents. “We’re doing our best to make sure each and every person feels like being in that parking lot with their neighbors and friends is exactly where they should be on a Friday night in August.”

That is believed to be mission accomplished according to Sherrie Vineyard – who has attended the cinema since its inception.

“It gives (Skyway residents) four Friday nights each summer to really connect with our families and neighbors, and share what we’re about as a community. Last year, they held a raffle for school supply filled backpacks, and I was lucky enough to win one. That backpack went to a little boy who had a mom with no idea of how she was going to get supplies for him. The Skyway Outdoor Cinema does more than impact the lives of the community for four weeks each summer. They impact lives for years to come with their generosity and warm hearts.”

Skyway Outdoor Cinema runs August 1st (Despicable Me 2), 8th (The Lego Movie), 15th (Gravity) and 22nd (Frozen). Pre-show entertainment starts at 8pm, with the film at 9pm. Visit their website (MyWestHill.org/SOC) and Facebook Page (Facebook.com/SkywayOutdoorCinema) for more information.

Additional thanks to Devin Chicras for assisting with this article.

The West Hill Family Center: Skyway’s R.A.Y.S of Sunshine

Rays 3By Marcus Harrison Green

On a typical day it can serve as a de facto community gathering hub, overloaded computer lab, hallowed sanctuary for religious revival, job center for the long term unemployed, adored romper space for toddlers, a copy/ printer/ fax depot of last resort, and a cherished Destress Zone for elders raising the twenty first century’s version of teenagers.  Of course, if you ask Morgan Wells – Director of R.A.Y’s West Hill Family Center, located in the Skyway/Westhill neighborhood – days at the center are anything but typical.

“The people who come in definitely vary on a day to day basis. They may be looking for housing, job searching, researching DSHS benefits, or wanting to take an online course, along with a myriad of other things. We want to serve as broad a part of the community as possible and throughout it all we want to make sure that we have a welcoming staff for them.” Says Wells.

The multifaceted West Hill Family Center – equipped with a computer room, conference meeting suite, children’s play area and a staff of five full time employees, in addition to two interns-  has been one of the Skyway area’s most venerable institutions, serving its residents for the past twenty years. Not a small feat when you consider – with a few notable exceptions- that during the same period the life cycle of most  businesses and organizations in the area have approximated that of the Mayfly.

Wells points to the unqualified support the center has received from the community as the main reason for its continued endurance. “This place is very much community run  and community owned.  Many times, when staff are away or sick, community members will just take the initiative to fill in for them, answering phones, helping people find resources, fixing computer problems, and keeping the building safe. It’s really them who have kept the Center thriving and helped us to avoid the pitfalls of many other organizations.”

To many of the area’s residents, the support has been both mutual and sorely needed, as Skyway- though falling within the Seattle city limits, and maintaining a Seattle address – is technically an unincorporated portion of King County, effectively meaning it lacks availability to the funding and resources that the rest of the city has access to.

As a result, the center has stepped in, during times both good and bad, to serve thousands upon thousands of the area’s residents. In several cases it has functioned as the last line of defense between them and destitution, both physical and mental. “If it wasn’t for the center I’d be homeless or worse right now. I really don’t even want to think about it!” one patron attested to as she used the center’s dual copier/fax machine to send her resume to a prospective employer.

Unlike the callous and aloof nature that is often associated with social service organizations, the center has cultivated a reputation of warmth and respect in its treatment of those who walk through its doors, regardless of circumstance, preferring to refer to all of them as clients.  “When I walk in the door here I’m treated as a human being, and not a piece of garbage like other places. You can tell at other places that they don’t care about you. They’re so condescending towards you. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been waiting in line forever. It doesn’t matter if you have a child you’re waiting with. To them you’re just another number.” Said a young mother who frequently visits the center.

That reputation wasn’t acquired by happenstance, according to Wells: “Our vision is that everyone who comes here walks out of our door thinking they’ve been treated with respect, and that’s been a permanent part of our culture.  We don’t have direct benefits to give out and so we don’t have to ask people to prove their eligibility like other social service places. Our door is open to everybody and there are no eligibility requirements for any of our programs which is great. So we try to treat everyone like a person and not like you’re number 1652 at the DMV.”

Although it’s reputation has remained intact throughout the years, several new faces amongst the center’s staff have caused concern over possible changes in its operation. In a little under a year, the center has undergone almost a complete overhaul, as its previous director – Jennifer Moore, along with two of  its youth counselors-  departed for opportunities elsewhere.

Perhaps no loss has been as heartfelt  as the recent retirement of the center’s long time receptionist/ administrative assistant Cynthia Green,  who had been with the center since its inception, nearly becoming indistinguishable from it in the minds of almost all of the area’s locals.

“I don’t know, with Ms. Cynthia leaving it’s kind of strange. When I come in now I see new faces and I’m not sure what to make of everything. With all the changes I’m a little concerned.” said one grandmother who regularly attends kinship care support group meetings at the center.

Well aware of some of the anxiety that has arisen amongst the clientele, Wells has been proactive in soliciting the opinions of the center’s regular attendees, even going so far as to establish a community steering community to best identify what most needs to be addressed as it concerns the Skyway area.

“Historically, we’ve made an effort to be flexible and responsive when things change, whatever they are, whether at the center or within the community. I’m certainly willing, if we need to totally scrap something and start over and build from the ground up.  If that’s what we have to do to meet the needs of our community right here and right now. If the voices are coming to us and saying we need and A.A. group, or we need more Adult Education classes  ESL classes, or whatever that thing is, I’ll go after it and put my heart into bringing it here to this building.” Wells stated.

Even with the center undergoing potential changes, there is at least one thing that its regulars hope remains forever sacrosanct. As one stated, “This place, to me, is like a second home. A second family really. And I hope it always stays that way!”