SEATTLE, July 14, 2011 – There will not be a national audience or a crowd yelling, “Driver, move that bus!” But by 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 16, the 40 preschool children who attend the Yesler Terrace Head Start program will have much to celebrate.
The reason: With a little luck, some generous organizations and a lot of volunteers, they will soon have:
- Climbing equipment on a playground that now lays empty
- A new sandbox to dig and create in
- New gutters to keep the rain from blowing in the door
- New lighting to brighten up classrooms darkened by crossbars on the windows
- Cheery flowers and other landscaping improvements
Being 3- to 5-years-old, they probably won’t notice:
- A new kitchen floor replacing the one that’s currently patched together
- Added electrical outlets and a remodeled utility room
- A solution to the messes made by pigeons nesting above the walkway
- A much improved heating system
But their teachers and parents most certainly will notice! These and other improvements are sorely needed to improve the learning environment for these children.
Yesler Terrace is a 30-acre, public-subsidized housing community owned and operated by the Seattle Housing Authority. Located on the southern slope of Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood, Yesler Terrace is among the most diverse and economically challenged neighborhoods in the city. Many of its 1,200 residents are immigrant or refugee families with children. On average, Yesler Terrace residents earn less than 30 percent of the city’s medium income.
Neighborhood House (http://www.nhwa.org/lookinside/index.php), which is a multi-service agency, has been serving the Yesler Terrace community since the 1950s. Early childhood education is a key focus of Neighborhood
House which runs the free, high-quality Head Start preschool for children aged 3 to 5. Head Start is an anti-poverty program that focuses on building strong families and strong communities. Parents receive training in how to help their children develop and learn, and are linked with community services and resources that meet their needs. For more information, visit www.headstartmakeover.org.
Two health-care engineering associations – one local and one national – are teaming up to spearhead this worthwhile community service project, and will provide construction management and oversight.
The American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) is holding its national conference in Seattle, July 17-20. Some of its attendees will be arriving early to provide volunteer skill and labor to the ‘makeover’ project on July 16. ASHE members include facility managers, construction professionals, health-care contractors, health-care safety managers and plant operations managers. They will be joined by members of the Washington State Society for Healthcare Engineering (WSSHE), a nonprofit association dedicated to serving the health-care engineering profession.
Members of these two organizations will donate project management expertise, labor, building materials, and products needed to improve the Head Start school for current and future preschoolers in the community. Many have already committed, including McKinstry, GLY Construction and Coffman Engineers.
Seattle University and Swedish Medical Center, both members of the First Hill and Capitol Hill community, have joined ASHE, WSSHE and Seattle Housing Authority/Neighborhood House in this worthwhile effort. They are assisting with developing and organizing the project.
Seattle University, founded in 1891, is a Jesuit Catholic university ranked among the top 10 universities in the West. Seattle University has made a long-term commitment to working side-by-side with underserved populations. Its Seattle University Youth Initiative (SUYI), which launched in 2009, specifically focuses on the area in which the Yesler Terrace Head Start preschool is located. The SUYI is a strategic effort to link the community assigned to Bailey Gatzert Elementary to the resources needed to advance the academic achievement of its children from cradle to college graduation. Through the SUYI the site for remodel was identified as promising the greatest impact in the short and long term. The Neighborhood House - Yesler Head Start is one of the primary early learning centers serving families in the neighborhood. Seattle University’s long-standing and deepening partnership with Neighborhood House - Head Start will make this project more than a remodel. The SUYI’s continuing support will include classroom assistants, support for assessment, teacher training and parent engagement.
Swedish is largest, most comprehensive non-profit health provider in the Greater Seattle area. Its mission is to improve the health and well-being of each person it serves. Swedish has a long history of community involvement and provided more than $112 million in community benefit services in 2010.
‘Makeover’ Event Details
Date/Time: Saturday, July 16, 2011, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
* At 2 p.m. the day-long ‘makeover’ will be revealed in a celebratory fashion via a ribbon-cutting ceremony that many of the Head Start preschoolers, parents and program staff will attend.
Location: Yesler Terrace Head Start Preschool, 825 Yesler Way, Seattle, WA 98104
- To read a related article posted July 16 on The Seattle Times' Web site, click here.