SPOKANE, Wash — A positive environment isn't something that should be overlooked.
In Spokane's East Central Community, the MLK Center isn't only telling neighborhood kids that they care about them but they’re showing them how support can make a monumental impact in someone's life.
Freda Gandy has seen firsthand how important equal opportunities are as the center's executive director.
“It started out as a drop in rec-center for kids in the neighborhood just to have a place to go,” explained Gandy.
Over the last 50 years, the center has evolved into a more comprehensive social service agency. Providing educational programs to low-income children and families in Spokane.
The new tech center that's about to open is another resource to help with their work.
“My goal was to provide a safe engaging learning environment for them, but also to address the digital divide that exists in low-income neighborhoods,” Gandy said.
When schools shut down because of the pandemic, online learning was a new reality and challenge for students who don’t have access to WiFi.
Even the public library has been closed, taking away another tool needed to keep up in a technology-driven world.
Strong mentorship has always played a pivotal role in the center's history.
A tutor to help with algebra equations or someone to ask how their day was can make a world of difference.
“We can offer them workshops in game development, coding, filmmaking,” Gandy said. “All of the things that allow them to be creative.”
The center is working to create time blocks for computer usage while COVID protocols remain in place.
Upon their return, students will find brand new furniture in a place where they can study. Something vital in their matriculation through school.
“I want them to know that there are adults there who care and who want to see them succeed,” Gandy said.
Funding from KREM's Tools 2 Schools helped turn the project into a reality.