The Eritrean Association of Greater Seattle was founded on November 3, 1994 and was registered as a non-profit, membership based community organization in the State of Washington in July 1995. The Association was also recognized in 1997 by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(C)(3) non-profit entity. Most of the association's members if not all are refugees with a few immigrants, who came to America to avoid war and persecution by the dictatorial regime of Mengistu Hailemariam of Ethiopia prior to 1991. At present it is estimated 5,000 Eritreans are residing in the Puget Sound region. They came together and formed the Eritrean Association to provide key services that were and are important to them. Such as education, health care, employment and immigration. Since they live in a new society and culture, they needed services that will help them cope and prosper in their newly adopted home while maintaining their cultural heritage.
The Eritrean Association in Greater Seattle is now housed at 1528 Valentine Place South in Seattle Washington. It is housed in an old residential building. The community center is divided in to an office, a meeting room, a class room and an activities room. The community center was bought by the collective efforts and resources of the members. It is worth noting that most of these members were of limited means. As members' participation increased and demands for services increased it quickly became apparent to build a new facility on the adjacent lot next to the existing old building.
After 5 long years of planning and fundraising within the community and
generous contribution from the following government and private donors:
" State of Washington Department of Community, Trade & Economic Development
" City of Seattle CDBG Grant
" City of Seattle Neighborhood Match
" The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
" The Seattle Foundation
" Paul G. Allen Foundation
" The Boeing Employees Community Fund
the new Eritrean Association Community Center was publicly opened on June 14, 2003.
In addition the Association greatly benefited form is partnership with HomeSight, an experienced non-profit developer and a community development corporation in Central and Southeast Seattle as the project manager for the community center.
A New Project for a Growing Community
Phase II Expansion of the Eritrean Community Center.
In 2004, with funding from the City of Seattle the Association commissioned an environmental feasibility study to determine if the old house could be renovated to suit programming needs. The recommendation of the study was to replace the building instead of renovating for safety and cost reasons.
In October 2006, the association successfully secured a small matching grant from the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhood for a planning grant. In the spring of 2007, the Association hired the architectural firm Arai Jackson
Ellison Murakami to analyze development options. Following a lengthy community and public engagement and input a preferred option for programming space and conceptual design was selected.
Following this process the Board of Directors designated a 9 member Steering Committee to launch and to provide leadership for a major capital fund raising campaign. Since the fall of 2007 the Steering Committee has been hard at work to secure funding for the expansion of the Eritrean Community Center.
To date we have reached 70% of our fund raising goal. We consider this a remarkable achievement given the difficulty economic environment in the past two years. Our goal is to raise the remaining 30% in the next four to six months. To this end we will continue to connect with the community at large to help us reach our goal.