May 6, 2010 in Washington Voices

Center of worthwhile activity

Center Pointe serving disabled since 1953
By The Spokesman-Review

Beth Myers works on a ceramic of a circus clown at Center Pointe April 27.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

At a glance

•For more information about Center Pointe, call (509) 325-5451 or go to

Upcoming fundraisers

May 21: Rummage Sale at Center Pointe, 1408 N. Washington St., 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

May 22: Breakfast and Craft Sale at Center Pointe, 1408 N. Washington St., 9 a.m. to noon

On a recent Tuesday morning, Center Pointe bustled with activity. The sound of sanding reverberated from the woodshop and the smell of paint emanated from the ceramics room.

Since 1953, Center Pointe (formerly Spokane Rehabilitation Center) has provided a safe and positive environment of activity and learning for people with disabilities. The nonprofit organization operates with the support of the United Way. Additionally, fundraisers held throughout the year, augment its small budget.

Executive director, Spike Cunningham, said Center Pointe fills a vital need in the community. “When a disabled person gets out of the school system, there are very few options for education or entertainment.” He said he frequently receives calls for help from family members of the disabled, who say their loved one sits in front of the television all day.

“Our goal is to overcome isolation and gain skills, especially interpersonal skills,” said Cunningham. On an average day, 50 adults, ranging in age from 18 to 89, find plenty to keep them busy at Center Pointe.

Jackie Everts, 50, puttered about in the ceramics room. “I’m trying to find a baby frog to fit in our yard,” she said. “I’ve got a papa and a mama,” she cradled her arms. “I just need a baby one.”

Laura Andes, 25, expertly lavished coats of red, white and blue paint on an old ladder. “I’m going to put liberty bells and fireworks on this,” she confided. Andes has found an outlet for her creativity at the facility. Her watercolors adorn the walls in the nearby art room. She’s painted everything from ocean life to her own interpretation of the universe. “I like drawing big, important things,” she said. Andes believes art “expresses our imaginations and our feelings.” She sighed as she looked at her work. “Our imaginations are endless.”

In the woodshop, John Adams unleashed his imagination on a chair he was refurbishing. As he applied a bright coat of green paint to the chair legs he said, “I wouldn’t want to paint the same chair, the same color. I have to do a good job.” He paused and gestured with his paintbrush. “I’m here five days a week. I like to work with my hands and help these guys out.” While Adams worked on the chair, others labored over birdhouses and one industrious woman patiently swept the concrete floor.

The clicking of computer keys could be heard from an adjoining room. Some folks played games like Elf Bowling while others brushed up on typing skills. Teresa Burgess sat near a friend and crafted bookmarks featuring acrostics of various names. She handed a personalized bookmark to a visitor and apologized for not coming up with a word to go with the letter “y”. “All I could think of was ‘yell,’ so I put ‘unknown’  ”, she said as she handed her gift to the guest.

In the craft room, a small group gathered around a horseshoe-shaped table. Cunningham said, “We work on a different project every day.” As the strains of “Footloose” played from a television affixed to a wall, a couple of friends joined hands and started dancing. That’s not an uncommon sight at Center Pointe; each Tuesday afternoon, the facility sponsors a dance.

Tutors are also on hand to work with those wanting to improve their reading or math skills. And a team of volunteers and workers from AmeriCorps, AARP and various community agencies assist the small staff.

Back in the ceramics room, AARP worker Bob Jones supervised a busy group. He enjoys his work at Center Pointe. “I’m one of those who think I know everything,” he said. “But then I spend time here and realize how little I know and how far I have to go.”

Laura Andes affirmed that the organization is accomplishing its goal of reducing isolation by providing a caring, interactive community. “I would be bored out of my mind if I didn’t come here,” she said. “I like it here because I have over a hundred friends.” She grinned. “They mean everything to me.”

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