Northwest Center Kids is the location for this year's NAIOP service project. On Oct. 5, hundreds of volunteers will repair the building. Photo by Sarah Radmer 
Northwest Center Kids is the location for this year's NAIOP service project. On Oct. 5, hundreds of volunteers will repair the building. Photo by Sarah Radmer 

Each year, the Washington chapter of NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, chooses a service project to devote its time on. This year, local NAIOP contractors, architects and engineers will complete 62 projects to give the Northwest Center Kids (2919 First Ave. W.) a facelift. The event will take place on Saturday, Oct. 5, from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

The Washington NAIOP chapter is composed of all types of people involved in the non-residential real estate industries. Event spokesperson Kathleen Garrity, co-chair of the local NAIOP chapter, said the committee for the annual service projects picks a project that needs construction or design help, scouting a two- or three-county area. 

“They go look for a site that really needs us and a site that can accommodate a couple hundred volunteers,” she said. 

The committee chose Northwest Center Kids because there was a tremendous need, Garrity said: “They don’t have the resources to make upgrades to the building. We can make a huge difference to it in one day.” 

A reflection of their work

Northwest Center Kids has programs for children of all abilities, said executive director Jane Dobrovolny. It has an early learning program that ranges from 6 weeks to kindergarten-age. It also has an after-school program. Those programs are inclusive, Dobrovolny said, which means about 40 percent of the children have developmental disabilities. 

For its children with disabilities, it also has an early intervention program that provides speech, occupational and physical therapy, as well as nutritionists, special educators and resources for families. It has been in the building since 1985, but the building is 100 years old. 

Northwest Center Kids does such important work, Garrity said, “we’re just hoping we can make their facility inside and out reflect their work. When you walk in, it’s kind of sad.”

The 62 projects include specialty work that will be done before or after the official service day. Those include roof and plumbing repair, as well as widening the building’s entrance. Dobrovolny said she’s most excited about the plumbing repairs. 

On Saturday, Oct. 5, the volunteers will focus on scraping and repainting the trim and windows, rehabilitating the garden, pruning and removing plants around the exterior, and pressure washing “areas that haven’t seen water — besides rain — in a very long time,” Garrity said.  

“Visually, how the building will look will be extremely different,” she said. “It’s a lot of hands.” 

Getting it done

Volunteers will include NAIOP members, along with people from the center and from the greater Queen Anne community. Volunteers will receive a T-shirt, lunch and ice cream at the end of the day. 

Garrity figures there will be about 275 volunteers. They will work from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., but Garrity said it’s OK for volunteers to show up and stay for as long as they have time. 

“It sounds like chaos,” she said, but they get a lot done. 

NAIOP will supply tools like rakes and shovels. If volunteers want to bring small hand tools, Garrity recommends they write their name and phone number on them, in case they get misplaced. She also recommends volunteers dress in layers. 

NAIOP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and depends on monetary donations for projects like this. 

“Money is tight this year for everybody,” Garrity said. “Construction isn’t as healthy as it was.” 

Dobrovolny is excited for the help, because the center can use it, she said. 

“All kids are special,” she said. “We think our kids are even more special, and this is a really old building. We’re a nonprofit so it’s difficult to do all of the things to make it the nicest environment for the kids.” 

For more information about volunteering or to donate money to the annual service project, contact Kathleen Garrity at 

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