Understanding the need for affordable housing in our city

By United Way of King County, on April 28, 2016 | In Emerging Leaders 365, Volunteering

alex2Guest blogger Alexandra Davis is a Communications and Social Media Manager at Russell Investments. She has worked at her company’s United Way workplace campaign and is currently a member of the Emerging Leaders Marketing Committee where she focuses on enhancing the volunteering experience for young professionals.


One of the best parts about volunteering in the Emerging Leaders Second Saturday projects is the opportunity to learn about the direct impact local organizations are making in our community. Sure, we hear broadly about these efforts in the news, but to understand the struggles in our community and see it firsthand provides a different experience – one that feels very real. My recent experience at El Centro de la Raza was an example of just that.

El Centro believes that our community will be able to effectively address the profound contradictions facing our world only though civic involvement, grassroots organizing, and political and social activism. They unite communities of all races, genders, ages and classes to fight for civil and human rights, both locally and globally.

The organization undertook a massive project – $45 million development – to build Plaza Roberto Maestas. The plaza is a mixed-use affordable housing community planned in response to growing needs – specifically, a critical need for affordable housing, economic opportunities and job creation, early childhood and development and education, and community gathering spaces.

Shaped by neighbors and future residents, and designed to promote community interaction and environmental values, Plaza Roberto Maestas will create and model a new standard for community-inspired, transit-oriented development in Seattle and around the county. It’s truly a fantastic space, and lucky enough for myself and the group of volunteers, we were able to tour the plaza during our time at El Centro. Stephen, capital development director at El Centro, provided us with a wealth of knowledge about the need for affordable housing in King County, the importance of this plaza and impact it will have on a number of families.

El Centro 3Following the tour, we came back upstairs to label over 3,000 postcards to be sent out ahead of GiveBIG in hopes to increase donations for the Plaza Roberto Maestas development. For those interested in donating to El Centro during Give Big, please click here – and I would certainly encourage you to do so!

Thanks to the friendly and informative staff at El Centro de la Raza (thank you Ashley and Stephen!), our group of volunteers could not say enough good things about the organization, their learning experience from the day, and how they would like to seek other opportunities to volunteer at the center in the future.

If you are a young professional looking for a way to get involved and give back, be sure to check out our upcoming Second Saturday volunteering projects in May and June.




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