White Center: changing one life at a time
by Frank Bunch and Shoshannah Ruwethin, Captain –
The White Center’s roots reach back to the late 1920s, when a corps was established in this unincorporated, inner city area of Seattle. In the late 1950s, a community center was built. Then, in 2004, a new facility was dedicated, complete with gym, chapel, senior center, food bank, computer lab, and homework center.
Without a doubt, The Salvation Army, under the leadership of Majors Maynard and Kathie Sargent, with the assistance of Captains Celestine and Shoshannah Ruwethin, is doing the most good in a location that leads the state in single parent families, teen pregnancies, crime, drug use, gangs and more.
Janeece Talbot, senior center director, receives an abundance of support from the volunteers who consider the center as extended family. One volunteer, Iola, remarked, “My husband died. My grandchildren are all grown up. So, I come here.”
At the other end of the spectrum, the homework center and the gym give children a place for tutoring, computer experience, reading and sports. The partnership between the homework center and the gym provides guidance and a safe place for the children while they wait for parents returning from work.
Again, the programming for the children is successful; not only because of hardworking staff, under the direction of Brandie Sargent, but also because of community leaders. The advisory board members directly gave their time and money to build shelves, buy books and computers. Additional funds for parties, school supplies, and school clothes also helped the children this year.
The gym offers a place for young people to become involved in sports programs, such as AAU basketball; more than 80 boys played basketball on Salvation Army teams this past year.
Children, seniors, and other adults feel at home in this place where people know their names and love them through difficult times. Staff members can do a lot, but it is the community coming together with their time, money and resources that makes the deep change in individual lives.