The moment is here — family center opens doors

The folks over at the Northshore Family Center must be breathing a collective sigh of relief.

The folks over at the Northshore Family Center must be breathing a collective sigh of relief.

This moment had most likely been embedded in their minds for a long time.

When would they move into their new quarters at 18414 103rd Ave. N.E. in Bothell?

Well, they — finally — held their open house and community celebration last Wednesday to a full house of local residents, children, staff members, Bothell Mayor Mark Lamb and King County Councilmember Bob Ferguson. (See pictures on page 4.)

I unfortunately missed Lamb and Ferguson’s appearances, but I strolled up the street from the Reporter office and checked the place out and met with Jane Hinton (Family Support director), Beratta Gomillion (Center for Human Services executive director) and Dolores Reyes (Northshore Family Center program manager).

They were the rock stars of the day, and were constantly surrounded by people — not asking for autographs, but giving them thanks for their efforts of helping open the new spot.

Hinton was blown away by the three-floor building’s transformation.

“You’ve got to see the children’s floor,” she said. “People didn’t think we could do it — it was really dirty down there.”

Now, the bottom floor is brightly colored in reds, greens, yellows and blues and features bean bags, a couch and everything from books to a painting corner to toys and more. Parents will have a hard time getting their kids to leave, and from the looks of things last week, the workers will have just as much fun down there as the young ones.

“We’re lucky to have this place,” Reyes said. “We were lucky to have Rickett’s (the old building), but it was more spread out.

“Here, it’s more close, more homey. When you walk in the front door, we want you to feel like you’re at home.”

Well put, Dolores.

And she’s not only talking about the well-coiffed building and relaxed atmosphere, but how anyone is welcome to walk through the doors and chat up one of the staff members or visitors.

There’s something for everyone: adult workshops and classes, family events, support groups and activities, computer use/Internet access and more.

Even more important, there’s an on-site bilingual staff. On the children’s floor, there is a sign that reads: primeros pasos, or first steps, that shows pictures of children wearing costumes and having a blast.

It’s clear that, in any language, the Northshore Family Center employees are going to make sure people are going to feel welcome in their new space.