Leaders at the Family Support Center of South Sound thought they were years away from moving out of their downtown Olympia office. Then they found just the right property: a three-building campus more than twice the old building’s size, close to where many of their clients live and with a seller willing to help with financing.
The nonprofit opened its new office at 3523 Seventh Ave. SW near Capital Medical Center this week, designed to be a one-stop-shop for families in need.
Family Support Center, which owns the property, serves mostly low-income and homeless families and domestic violence survivors. It has rented space in its new buildings to like-minded groups, including the county’s domestic violence prosecutors, nonprofits that connect families to child care and offer free legal advice, and therapists who already share their clients.
United Way of Thurston County and Catholic Community Services also are there. Plans are in the works to offer on-site child care run by Nature Nurtures Farm, which runs outdoor-based child care and preschool for low-income families.
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“The whole intention was just to bring together the services to one location so that a person doesn’t have to ride a bus to three different locations with their kids on their hip,” said Trish Gregory, executive director of the Family Support Center, on a recent tour.
For now, paper signs direct visitors around the property. Family Support Center’s suite has a play area for small children and rocking chairs for parents, but around the corner are empty shelves and boxes of office supplies waiting to be unpacked.
The Family Support Center previously worked out of the former city hall and fire station on Capitol Way North, but the city of Olympia gave notice about two years ago that it wanted the building back. (The City Council’s land use committee will take up plans for that building next month.)
The nonprofit had rented that building from the city for $1 a year and shared it with other groups, many of which made the move to Seventh Avenue with Family Support Center.
The Family Support Center bought the property last fall for nearly $4 million from the estate of Dr. Angela J. Bowen, a local physician and philanthropist who died in 2017, which also offered it a private loan.
The purchase included a lot across the street where Family Support Center plans to build 44 units of permanent supportive housing for domestic violence survivors and families with children. It got $400,000 from the city of Olympia for that project and plans to break ground in 2020.
While its old office was walking distance to other social service providers, this one is down the street from several apartment complexes where many Family Support Center clients live and near many medical providers.
“You drive down the street at 8:20 a.m., there’s 100 kids getting on the bus,” said Natalie Skovran, the group’s deputy director. “This is where our families are.”