“The Place” Community Center getting Underway

by Dean Dalvit on February 11, 2010

This story, Reprinted in its entirety from the Canyon Courier this week, is all about “The Place”, a project we had the privilege to be involved with:


The Place to be: Former Carpet Exchange building to host businesses, coffee shop, nonprofits

By Deb Hurley Brobst

The Place is going to be about miracles.

That’s the description Dean Dalvit, owner of EV Studios, gave for the project going into the old Carpet Exchange building on Meadow Drive. Dalvit’s architectural firm designed the space for The Place.

There’s no easy way to describe The Place. It’s part community center, part business center, part training area, part coffee shop. It will be for nonprofits and small businesses, for teens to hang out, and for struggling families to get a hand up.

What is easy to describe is Evergreen resident Brett Edwards’ vision for The Place. He wants it to serve the community, to help small businesses and nonprofits, and to help area families in need.

Edwards, who has lived in Evergreen since 1994, has talked with many Evergreen groups about his plan for the space. His drive and enthusiasm have gotten others excited about the possibilities.

“We’re totally excited about Brett’s idea,” said Evergreen Christian Outreach executive director Kristi Sigal. “We’re in an economic climate where it’s going to take a village to support our neighbors. We’re grateful that Brett is taking on a project like this.”

Dalvit echoed Sigal’s sentiments. “We all feel that what Brett is doing is going to add tremendous value for the community.”

There are many spokes to the wheel that is called The Place:

• A coffee shop. The 1,000 square feet of space between the former Carpet Exchange and Gysin Insurance is being converted into a coffee shop. Edwards hopes the shop will be open daily, and it will have a doorway into the former Carpet Exchange building, so it is easily accessible by those using the remaining space.

In addition, he hopes that adults looking for jobs will be able to use the coffee shop as a place to network with others and have informal meetings with potential employers.

• Office space. Small businesses and nonprofits will be able to rent office space on the second floor that is being built into the main room, Edwards said. There will be a reception area and a secretary who will be shared among the businesses.

For example, the Mountain Area Pregnancy Center, a nonprofit that provides assistance for women with unwanted pregnancies or struggling families with small children, will have an office in The Place. The office will provide privacy for counseling, according to executive director Jill Sneed.

The pregnancy center moved into the shopping center on Dec. 1 and has its Mother’s Closet thrift store that provides clothing and items for infants to children age 5. Sneed says the move from a location on Buffalo Park Road should bring more visibility for the pregnancy center.

• Training center. Sneed says the open room on the first floor will allow the pregnancy center and other groups to offer training for parents who want to learn about job searches, parenting and other topics.

Edwards is excited about the training possibilities. He hopes that area groups can offer financial seminars and other classes to help others in the community. The large room also will work well for other classes, such as aerobics or art classes for those who can’t afford to pay for them.

Edwards also envisions the room as a meeting place for area nonprofits such as Habitat for Humanity, Evergreen Christian Outreach and the Mountain Resource Center.

• Media center. The Place will be equipped with a media center, so seminars can be taped and replayed as needed. There will be recording equipment and computers that can be used by nonprofits to help others.

• Teen hangout. Edwards has offered the use of The Place to Higher Ground, the Christian-based teen center now located at Lutheran Church of the Cross on Meadow Drive. Higher Ground, which has been operating for 10 years, offers a coffeehouse atmosphere with bands on Friday and Saturday nights for teens only.

The coffee shop would be open for the teens, and the teens will be able to move between the coffee shop and the main room that will host bands.

Linda Juntunen, who coordinates the operation of Higher Ground, said she was 99 percent sure that Higher Ground would move.

“It’s the most ideal spot that we have prayed for for years,” Juntunen said.

However, there are logistics and financial issues. For example, she said the coffeehouse had raised money to buy and install LED lights, and the board of directors that oversees the program must figure out how to move them.

Higher Ground is an all-volunteer group that runs the coffee house. It gets its funding in part from the church but mostly from donations from Evergreen-area businesses.

She said if Higher Ground moves, it wouldn’t be until the fall at the earliest.

• Helping Evergreen families in need. Edwards is proud of the family-friendly bathrooms he is installing at the back of the building that have shower facilities. He has offered the use of those facilities to Evergreen Christian Outreach. According to Sigal, showering facilities will be great for area homeless families.

“We do have a homeless population that is here year-round,” Sigal said. “It still is a population that doesn’t have a voice, and it’s growing in to the lower-middle class and the middle-middle class. Homelessness here is kind of invisible.”

Edwards has also spoken with the Mountain Resource Center about offering services at The Place that aren’t being offered by EChO.

Edwards also wants to look into building codes to see if he could use part of The Place for a medical clinic for struggling families because he sees a need for that type of service in Evergreen.

“(Edwards has) the space and the vision to do over there (at The Place) things that will support what we’re doing over here (at EChO),” Sigal said. “He’ll be able to provide things we just can’t take on.”



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