AGC Members Team Up to Take on Boys & Girls Club Performing Arts Center Project

“The Southern District of the Associated General Contractors of Washington is heading up a community service project for greater Tacoma youth.The AGC Southern District has organized AGC members including general and specialty contractors, suppliers, and others to carry out planned improvements with donated time, labor and materials.The project’s focus is the Boys & Girls Clubs of Pierce County, D.A. Gonyea Branch at 5136 North 26th Street in Tacoma. A previously underused wing of the branch is being reconstructed for use as a performing arts and cultural enrichment center.The AGC Southern District, based in downtown Tacoma, had sought a project through which members could give back to the community.The Boys & Girls Clubs of Pierce County, meanwhile, was in need of assistance in revamping the branch – its largest in the community. The branch had received approval for a $5,000 Neighborhood Council Innovative Grant from the City of Tacoma, but needed more help to transform the center.Leaders in the project have included Greg Helle, executive vice president of operations for Absher Construction Company, Puyallup; Gene Anderson, the Gonyea Branch director; Rick Guild, executive director of Boys & Girls Clubs of Pierce County; and Gary Yazwa, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Pierce County.Other AGC members and representatives on the planning team have included Dolores Kelley of Absher Construction; Carmen Gebauer of Sunset Pacific General Contractors; Roy Hoke and Ed Schneberger, superintendents with Absher Construction; and Bob Brunke, AGC Southern District manager. A student intern at the Gonyea Branch, Emily Eakland, a senior at Gig Harbor High School, coordinated preparation of the plans.Utilizing some $2,500 of in-kind donations and labor from AGC member firms, work began in mid-May to convert a large underused wing of about 2,000 square feet, into multi-use space and the heart of the branch’s cultural enrichment core program.For use of the space, the branch is partnering with the Northwest Children’s Theater, which gains a permanent place for practices, rehearsals and set design in this new center.When completed, the wing will have a stage, photography darkroom and computer work stations and is to be used in drama, music, dance, fine arts, arts and crafts, and banquet functions.The initial stage of the project was some demolition and relocation involving walls, doors, plumbing, wiring and cabinets.Construction and installation work that concluded in late June in time for use of the center in summer programs, included walls, cabinets, wiring, plumbing, sinks, faucets, counters, doors, lighting, flooring and painting.Construction of the stage and possible installation of a folding partition wall is scheduled to take place during the summer. The branch is planning a grand opening in September.This project is a delight to see come into being, Anderson said. Our kids have had few opportunities for fine arts and crafts. We try to expose kids to a variety of positive things…..What this project will do is give us an arts program and a place for it, with our partners. It gives our jazz band a home with a place to practice and store their instruments.Anderson said the center is the first performing arts center in a Boys & Girls Club branch, in one place in Pierce County, accessible all hours for ages six to 18.We really appreciate the help, Yazwa said. The space being converted is badly needed for 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. We appreciate AGC’s involvement. It wouldn’t have gotten done otherwise.The branch serves between 400 to 600 young people daily. Its membership includes 1,600 kids and its facilities are also used by an adjacent school.AGC member firms contributing to the project include: Absher Construction Company; Sunset Pacific General Contractors; Madsen Electric; Sessler Inc.; Metcalf-Grimm Mechanical Contractors; Westmark Products; URESCO Construction Materials; and Cascade Concrete Sawing & Drilling.The Kiwanis West End Puget Sound Club contributed to demolition work. Other firms contributing include Washington Architectural Hardware Company; BCRA.TSANG, Chalker Putnam Collins & Scott; Quality Painting; Avalon Painting and Contracting; and Rubenstein’s Contract Carpeting.”