At the Together Center in downtown Redmond, much of what the nonprofit organizations do is in the campus’s name.
From housing services and affordable health and dental care, to child care and multicultural services, the various agencies work together to provide services their clients need.
“They talk to one another,” said Together Center CEO Pam Mauk about the various organizations on their campus.
She said the nonprofits discuss how to best serve their clients — who come from throughout the greater Eastside. And behind the scenes, Mauk said they hold campus-wide trainings and monthly meetings.
The importance of this collaboration among service providers was on display at the campus’s annual breakfast fundraiser, Together Strong, which raises money to go toward the Together Center’s operating budget.
Elected officials from Redmond, Bellevue, Kirkland and Sammamish attended the event.
City of Redmond outreach specialist Kent Hay, who spends some of his time working out of the Together Center, spoke at last Friday’s event and discussed what it means to have so many services all in one place. He told the audience that it is critical to make it easy for people to access services in one place. He did this while at a previous job as a probation counselor at the Seattle Municipal Court, creating a court resource center, a one-stop shop of agencies that is available to anyone and everyone who comes to the court.
Hay said one of the challenges people seeking services can have is limited transportation options and if they do not have a physical address, applying for a driver’s license can be difficult. Because of this, he said, it is critical to make it easy for people to access services in one place.
A common theme among the various speakers at Friday’s breakfast was the fact that people seeking services will likely need multiple types of service, again emphasizing the importance of Together Center’s “one-stop shop” model.
Mauk said when people are in distress, having to go to multiple places for services can be stressful. Having so many types of services in one location helps lower barriers for people, she said.
The money from the breakfast helps pay for full-time informational referral services at their front door. The funds also help them keep costs low for tenants as they provide nonprofits rental space at a discounted rate.
“It does take the community support to keep the Together Center going,” Mauk said.
Together Strong also emphasized the importance of the services provided by the center’s tenants.
Sammamish resident Bob Krulish shared with the audience how he has benefited from the services provided by NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Eastside.
Krulish, who has bipolar one disorder, shared the struggles he faced before he was able to get help. As a result of his mental illness, his marriage of 25 years ended, he spent years separated from his four children, lost his job, found himself homeless and ended up living in a friend’s cabin in the woods near Bear Creek.
He said if the Together Center were not in Redmond, near that cabin, he would not have been able to get the help he received from NAMI Eastside.
“You can access all of these vendors, all this support, all this all in one place,” Krulish said.
Krulish expressed his gratitude to have found the resource that is the Together Center while noting that even people from presumably affluent communities such as the Eastside need help.
“People like me are all over the place,” he said.
King County council member Kathy Lambert, who represents areas of unincorporated King County near Redmond, seconded this. She shared a story about a family from her church who were in need of services provided by the various agencies at the Together Center.
“This family had so many needs,” she said. “They’re our neighbors. They’re our friends.”