Together Center is one of the first nonprofit multi-tenant centers created in the nation. During the late 1980’s, a number of nonprofit leaders discussed the need for a low-cost, centralized home for services. The goals were to meet the multiple needs of clients, overcome transportation barriers and provide the community with a large service mix. In addition, the new Center would keep costs low and create unpredictable but expected synergy and partnerships.
In 1990, four agencies (Friends of Youth, Hopelink, Youth Eastside Services, and Eastside Human Services Council, later replaced by HealthPoint) formed a separate nonprofit agency to achieve this and in 1991 loaned thousands of dollars to the newly-formed Family Resource Center (now Together Center) to purchase a three-building complex in Redmond.
Since that time, a high level of community support has gone into developing the founding vision. Several million dollars have been donated from private foundations, corporations, and local and federal government to renovate the campus buildings and launch the Center’s innovative project.
TOGETHER CENTER THROUGH THE YEARS
- Muslim Community Resource Center and Open Doors for Multicultural Families are new on campus.
- Together Center gets a major facelift when the exterior paint is refreshed and redesigned, while indoors, flat screen technology is added to the Rainier Room conference room.
- Microsoft receives the Alliance of Eastside Award for Business of the Year, thanks to a nomination from Together Center, which focused on support from Together Center’s launch and ongoing partnership with Jim Stanton.
- Together Center celebrates its 25th anniversary with its first fundraising breakfast, and exceeded its goals.
- Working collaboratively with Together Center, HealthPoint completes a $1.5 million renovation project expanding both its dental and medical clinics.
- A survey of the campus shows a growth of 10,000 more people are served than in the previous year: 37,000 are now helped annually.
- Together Center and HealthPoint partner to create a new community room, greatly expanding the capacity to train agency staffs, hold events and host the community. Together Center hosts a training in Secondary Trauma and its September After Hours in the space.
- Together Center launches an Ambassador Program to increase those who represent the Center and its goals. More than a dozen become active ambassadors.
- By year end, 5 new agencies are added, and two agencies move into new suites, which are renovated or resurfaced by Together Center. The Center went from a difficult 75% occupancy to 95% occupancy within one year.
- The Center initiates its Front Door Services Initiative, redesigning the lobby for better service and creating an advocate office. The office is staffed with part-time advocates for families seeking housing, homeless individuals, Public Health and, later, veterans and youth housing.
- Co-founder Hopelink outgrew both its business office space and Redmond service center space and moved from the campus, leaving 1/3 vacant. In preparation Board and staff studies and prepared reports on best uses for the campus and how to improve the Center’s front door supports.
- Together Center celebrates its 20th anniversary with an on-campus event. The Center used the anniversary to roll-out its new name and new brand, developed after two years of study and production.
- Together Center co-founder J. Howard Finck (a long-time CEO of Friends of Youth) is honored with the Alliance of Eastside Agencies Legacy Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Services for helping to launch Together Center 20 years ago.
- The City of Issaquah approves funds for the Center to conduct of feasibility study related to a human service center in the Issaquah area. The major report on needs, agencies, and development strategies is produced by Together Center and Nonprofit Centers Network and shows replication in Issaquah is feasible. The Center is involved in work on this from 2007 through 2015, but a lack of appropriate property for a site stymies the project.
- The Alliance of Eastside Agencies staff award for nonprofit excellence goes to Together Center Operations Manager Paula Matthysse for her roles in increasing access to services by a diverse community and benefiting the Eastside’s nonprofit community.
- The administrative offices move off the lobby to better meet the information and referral needs of all clients, particularly the homeless, domestic violence survivors and immigrants.
- To help immigrants and refugees access services, the Center became primary host to “cultural navigators,” who assist families in Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Indian languages. Navigators share the Together Center administrative offices for two years before acquiring an office off the lobby.
- Together Center leverages the property to lower costs to 18 agencies on our campus. After completing a three year capital drive, the Center refinances using a one-of-a-kind amortization schedule and passes the benefits to tenant agencies. Among supporters: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Paul Allen Charitable Foundation and 5 Eastside cities, among many others.
- Together Center receives the 2002 Evergreen Award for nonprofit excellence from the Evergreen State Society, for its campaign to benefit its agencies with a capital campaign to lower debt.
- The Center is honored with the 2002 Greater Redmond Chamber of Commerce Nonprofit Breakthrough Award at the Greater Redmond Chamber of Commerce’s Business Excellence Awards.
- Together Center celebrates ten years of service and is now a significant model for others looking to match its success in easing access to community services and keeping costs low.
- US Bank removes guarantees by four founding agencies. We’re all grown up and on our way!
- Together Center trains nonprofit staff in use of software at Eddie Bauer University, thanks to a partnership with the retailer. Over the next year 106 staff from 30 organizations received low-cost training.
- Free telephone service is added to the main lobby. Today, two free public phones are in active use.
- The last for-profit tenant moves out, and TC is now a 100% nonprofit campus.
- The Center holds its first Eastside Volunteer Fair to provide a “one-stop” venue for volunteer opportunities. More than 30 nonprofits participate. The event becomes a yearly standard for the Eastside for over a decade, when as many as 50 agencies participated yearly, until other priorities returned the Center’s focus to campus services.
- The mortgage loan is refinanced through Washington Health Care Facilities Authority, saving $359,667 over the life of the loan, which is passed on to tenants in the form of lower lease rates. Because the Center is a unique campus and accomplished what is normally done only by very large institutions, the WHCFA names the refinancing WHCFA’s “Unique Deal of the Quarter.”
- A lease rate survey is taken of comparable real estate, which underscores that TC’s low-cost lease structure continues to greatly benefit agencies. By 2000, there is a marked increase (25 – 55%) in Eastside lease rates (with no Center increases).
- TC receives $348,250 from the State of Washington capital budget to reduce its mortgage, thereby allowing the Center to repay its founding agencies.
- Together Center receives the 1994 King County Housing and Development Partner Award. Then King County Executive Gary Locke notes:“(Together Center) embodies a vision of human service collaboration and co-location that is a model for others.”
- New campus agency association meetings provide a forum for working on collaborative goals. Agencies continue to meet monthly to share information, for training, social events and other events to build better referrals and best practices.
- An open house is held to thank contributors who have donated $600,000 to date. The Center is now home to ten agencies.
- Community Health Centers of King County (now HealthPoint) replaces EHSC as a founding agency and assumes its responsibilities.
- A failing three-building strip mall in downtown Redmond is purchased for $1.6 million. The Cities of Bellevue and Redmond and King County each made initial financial gifts of $100,000 or more over two years. The four founding agencies loan $315,000 for closing costs and guarantee the loan.
- Four agencies commit to launch the Center: Friends of Youth, Multi-Service Centers of North and East King County (now Hopelink), Youth Eastside Services and Eastside Human Services Council (EHSC).
- Articles of Incorporation are filed on 11/13/90, and the Center gains its 501(c)3 nonprofit corporate status for an organization first called Family Resource Center, later Together Center (TC) or (the Center).
Mid 1980s: A study conducted by the Eastside Human Services Council (now defunct) identifies the advantages of collaboration for social service agencies, along with the inherent difficulties of that collaboration. Approximately 14 different agencies gather in the late over several years to discuss if and how a central hub for nonprofits might be formed.