January 24, 2013 in Washington Voices

Moving youth program to All Saints would allow it to grow

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Proposal would double enrollment

The proposed Lower Falls Afterschool and Summer Youth Program at All Saints Lutheran Church, at 314 S. Spruce St. in Browne’s Addition, would be an expansion of the youth program currently operating at Peaceful Valley Community Center. It would serve up to 76 children in first through sixth grades on weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m.

In the summer the program would operate weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The program would offer homework help, computer help, field trips, art and music programs as well as snacks and small meals.

It would operate as an exempt program under the Department of Early Learning guidelines, and parents would pay based on a sliding scale.

Moving the youth program from the Peaceful Valley Community Center to All Saints Lutheran Church in Browne’s Addition would allow enrollment to more than double. The program has looked at relocation opportunities for several years because the Peaceful Valley building is small, old and rundown.

Mark Reilly, director of Peaceful Valley Community Center, said other locations were all too expensive.

“That’s why we picked All Saints,” Reilly said at the Jan. 16 meeting.

Initial plans called for moving all of the community center to the church. However, Reilly said, it was clear Browne’s Addition neighbors would not support relocating the entire community center.

“We are here to clarify what we want to do,” said Kathy Thamm, Peaceful Valley Community Center board member. “The only thing we are moving to the church is the youth program.”

For that to happen, the church would need about $300,000 in remodeling to bring the space up to code, part of which could be funded by community development grants given to the Browne’s Addition Neighborhood.

Reilly said the youth program desperately needs a bigger and more modern building. Currently, 30 children participate in the afterschool program offering homework help, nutrition, exercise and occasional field trips.

“If we move we can expand our capacity to serve 76 children,” Reilly said.

The Peaceful Valley youth program is the only such program available in Browne’s Addition, Latah Creek or Peaceful Valley, and there are very few youth services available on the west side of the lower South Hill.

Among the modifications needed at All Saints are a fire suppression system, egress windows and doors, and a separate entrance for the children.

The youth program would lease the space from the church on a 15-year contract.

The youth program is raising money to pay for the move.

Jonathan Mallahan, Community and Neighborhood Services director, said a little more than $60,000 of Community Development Block Grant funding has been allocated to the project and the group has applied for another $100,000 Community Development Block Grant funding which may be allocated by the Community Housing and Human Services Board.

After a question about federal grant funds being used to remodel the church, Mallahan explained that doing so is not supporting a religious purpose.

“Many nonprofit programs, like the House of Charity, are religious-based but receive public funding because they serve a public purpose,” Mallahan said.

The proposed Lower Falls Afterschool and Summer Youth Program was the subject of an extensive feasibility study which can be viewed at www.spokaneneighborhoods.org.

City Council members Michael Allen and Jon Snyder both said at the Jan. 16 meeting that they support the program and the move.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think it was feasible,” Allen said. “And it’s sustainable.”

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