Sept. 6 commemorates Cynthia A. Green Day in South King County’s Skyway community. For nearly two decades, Cynthia Green served as the operations manager for the then West Hill Family Center. However, she meant monumentally more to the community than that title suggests. Transcending her position, Cynthia functioned as the last line of defense for community members facing eviction and utility shutoffs, provided counsel to domestic violence survivors, helped former gang members transition to better lives, and served as a trusted sounding board to countless community members who sought out her guidance.
In 2014 the West Hill Family Center was renamed the Cynthia A. Green Center in her honor.
A new HUD EnVision Center is set to open in the old U.S. Bank building in Skyway in 2023 — providing connections to economic, health, and other resources — after U.S. Bank donated the land and the building to the King County Housing Authority (KCHA).
The space, which will be known as the Skyway Resource Center and is located at 12610 76th Ave. S., will replace and expand on the existing mobile resource center the Renton Innovation Zone Partnership (RIZP) launched roughly a year ago to provide resources during the pandemic.
“For too long, Skyway has not received sufficient public and private investment, and that has slowed the development of economic opportunities and the provision of needed community services,” Stephen Norman, KCHA’s executive director, wrote in a statement released by U.S. Bank. “We are excited to work with the Skyway community and King County to reverse this trend and assist in the development of a new community asset that will provide additional tools and resources to help residents to move ahead.”
For decades, the close-knit and diverse community in Skyway has been striving to flourish on their own terms.
As an unincorporated part of King County, Skyway does not have a local government entity, like a city council or mayor, working on behalf of the majority BIPOC community, making it harder for residents to preserve the parts of Skyway they love and execute much-needed additions, like a long-awaited community center. At the same time, residents like Jeannie Williams, who’s lived in Skyway for 36 years, say incorporation wouldn’t be worth the cost to the heart and soul of the neighborhood.
“Skyway has its own quirky personality all its own. It’s kind of like being out in the country but in the middle of the city. There’s cool little family-owned restaurants and it’s a good place to raise your kids. It’s very diverse,” said Williams. “All of those things make Skyway its own community.”
A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!
Mask Mandates a Thing (Again) & Public School Employees, Others, Required to Get Vaccine
Gov. Jay Inslee announced during an in-person-only press conference held in an Olympia elementary school Wednesday, Aug. 18, that he would reinstate the statewide indoor mask mandate — for those vaccinated and unvaccinated alike. Inslee said in a tweet immediately following the press conference that COVID-19 cases are “skyrocketing” due — in large part, he said — to the delta variant and that “the best way to protect everyone is to get vaccinated and wear a mask.” He also announced that vaccinations would be required not only for those working in K–12 schools but also in “most childcare and early learning” as well as in higher education. In his tweet, Gov. Inslee listed out highlights of the new vaccine requirements for workers.
On Thursday, April 29, and Thursday, May 27, community members in the Skyway and West Hill areas can access COVID-19 vaccine doses, health insurance enrollment help, metro fare aid, and other resources at the Grocery Outlet in Skyway.
While other areas in South Seattle, such as Rainier Beach and Renton, have better access to the COVID-19 vaccine, this event is an effort to increase access for residents living in the Skyway and West Hill areas
“The community partners in Skyway know what works for their residents and we’re working with them to develop sustainable resources,” said Daphne Pie, health services administrator at Public Health — Seattle and King County. “In recent months as we’ve been working with the Skyway community, we clearly heard that services need to be brought to Skyway.”
When the Renton Ecumenical Association of Churches (REACH) started talking to the Lakeridge Lutheran Church in the West Hill area of unincorporated King County about partnering to expand and relocate its existing shelter for homeless families back in late 2019, their plan was to take it slow — go door to door, listen to community members’ concerns, assuage their fears about what it was like to live in close proximity to people experiencing homelessness.
The King County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a “coordinated attack” from hackers that disrupted an online town hall for Skyway hosted by the King County Local Services Department on October 6, according to a statement from the King County Executive’s Office. Hackers broke into the meeting and used Zoom’s annotations feature to post “offensive, anti-Black, anti-Semitic, and sexually explicit images and words,” according to King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay on Twitter, who was part of the meeting.
The Skyway Youth Network Collaborative (SYNC) is working with youth in the West Hill/Skyway area to provide leadership and community advocacy opportunities. SYNC, a collaborative that empowers youth to use their voices, two years ago created an opportunity for youth to engage local politicians and provide them with recommended actions that will better serve youth and families in their community.
One of the first projects the young people worked on was creating and distributing surveys in the community to determine what topics to focus on. The two major areas of concern they found were affordable housing and real investment. These topics fueled SYNC’s efforts this year. The process set them on a path that started with conversations with community members who are currently working to address concerns regarding affordable housing and culminated with a group of youth giving a presentation during a King County Council meeting.
A free, multi-service resource center hosted by Renton Innovation Zone Partnership will be stationed at 12643 Renton Ave. S.on Sept. 4, Sept. 18, and three dates in October, to provide Skyway residents with housing assistance, school supplies, and food resources, among other things.
“Grandma’s hands clapped in church on Sunday morning
Grandma’s hands played a tambourine so well
Grandma’s hands used to issue out a warning
She’d say, ‘Billy don’t you run so fast
Might fall on a piece of glass
Might be snakes there in that grass,’
— Bill Withers
In the face of overwhelming uncertainty, Women United’s Pepper Pot Kinship Support Group is proving that Bill Withers was on to something when he spoke of the healing properties of a grandmother’s hands in his 1971 song “Grandma’s Hands.”