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July 6, 2000

AGC members are 'best supporting actors' for new Tacoma arts center

  • Contractors pitch in to help Boys & Girls Clubs of Pierce County
    Journal Staff Reporter

    Premiering this fall at the D.A. Gonyea Branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Pierce County is new project that will put kids center-stage. Literally.

    AGC volunteers
    AGC members workers donate their time and skill to turning an under-used wing of the D.A. Gonyea Branch of the Boys & Girls Club into a performing arts/cultural enrichment center.

    The September grand opening of the North Tacoma branch's new Performing Arts/Cultural Enrichment Center will celebrate a community service project organized by the Southern District of the Associated General Contractors of Washington and the Boys & Girls Club.

    With about $25,000 of in-kind donations and labor from AGC member firms, work began in mid-May to convert a large, under-used wing of the Gonyea facility into an arts center. The 2,000-square-foot multipurpose area will feature a stage, photography darkroom, computer work stations and storage for band instruments.

    How did the AGC and Boys & Girls Club find each other? The Gonyea Branch had already received a $5,000 grant from the city of Tacoma for the project, but needed more help to realize its goal for a class-act arts center. Around the same time, AGC's Southern District was searching for a community service project. After discovering plans were under way for the Gonyea performing arts center -- sans manpower and material -- AGC members contacted the branch and offered to do the work.

    Gonyea got more than a few good laborers out of the deal.

    In addition to construction labor and materials donated by general contractors; architectural, engineering, painting and flooring specialists contributed as well.

    AGC firms working on the project include Absher Construction, Sunset Pacific General Contractors, Madsen Electric, Sessler Inc., Metcalf-Grimm Mechanical Contractors, Westmark Products, Uresco Construction Materials and Cascade Concrete Sawing & Drilling.

    Nonmembers also contributed, including Washington Architectural Hardware, Architects BCRA Tsang, Chalker Putnam Collins & Scott, Quality Painting, Avalon Painting and Contracting, and Rubenstein's Contract Carpeting. Also, the Kiwanis West End Puget Sound Club contributed to the demolition work.

    Dolores Kelley of Absher Construction served on the AGC planning team for the project. She said there were no "assigned roles" or hierarchy on the job -- crews worked together.

    "There wasn't a general contractor for the job. Everyone pitched in, side by side," she said. "It was great to see happen."

    Kelley said workers also did minor repair work on non-project related problems.

    "If someone from Madsen Electric, for instance, saw anything needing to be fixed, he fixed it -- even if it wasn't part of the center."

    Although the arts center won't officially debut for several months, much of the construction and installation work -- such as walls, cabinets, wiring, plumbing and lighting -- concluded in June, just in time for the club's summer programs. Already, the arts-and-crafts part of the center serves about 50 kids per day. Another 50 per day is expected when the drama program begins, according to Gonyea staff.

    "This project is a delight to see come into being," said Gene Anderson, Gonyea branch manager. "Our kids have had few opportunities for fine arts and crafts. We try to expose kids to a variety of things."

    Anderson said many kids are initially attracted to the Boys and Girls Club by its sports programs. Now, the club will have an arts program in place, with a good facility to support it.

    Gary Yazwa, chief executive officer of the Boys & Girls Club of Pierce County, says he's grateful for the materials and work donated via AGC's community service program.

    "We really appreciate the help," Yazwa said. "The space being converted is badly needed for the new uses and programs. Some of those programs are disappearing from the school systems -- opportunities to learn, rehearse and perform in the arts, hopefully on through high school."

    The Boys & Girls Clubs of Pierce County last month kicked off a $5.9 million capital/operations campaign. About $2.7 million of the amount will go toward renovating club buildings countywide, according to Rebecca King, director of marketing for the Boys & Girls Clubs.

    The campaign is expected to wrap up next year.

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