Atlantic Street Center Celebrates 100 Years
In 2010, Atlantic Street Center—a youth-focused social service agency in Seattle, Washington—celebrated 100 years of service to the city’s citizens.
The center began life in 1910 when it was founded by two young women. One was a teacher; the other, a nurse; and both had been ordained as deaconesses by the Methodist Episcopal Church.
The deaconesses noticed that a large number of immigrants from Italy were relocating in Seattle’s Rainier Valley. They realized that a settlement house would help meet these newcomers’ needs. So, after inquiring at various agencies in Seattle, the young women finally secured funding from the Methodist Church to begin providing services. This support enabled the Deaconess Settlement House to begin its work.
The purpose of a settlement house was to provide a place for immigrants to meet, learn, and sometimes live for a time as they became accustomed to their new culture. The settlement house idea was a common feature of the Progressive Era in many US cities. The most famous one was Jane Addams’ Hull House in Chicago. Over time, many settlement houses evolved into the family and neighborhood centers found in cities today.
In its early decades, the Deaconess Settlement House in Seattle offered programs for all ages. There were literacy and nutrition classes for adults, social programs, kindergartens, visiting nurse services, and well-baby programs. Religion was very much a part of the services offered in the early years, with Sunday school, evening preaching services, and other programs provided.
A Change of Name
In the 1950s, the Deaconess Settlement House was renamed the Atlantic Street Center—a change that reflected a more professional approach to charity work. Gradually, trained social workers took over management of the center, which continued to provide such services as counseling, school-based programs, and recreation. Today, Atlantic Street Center still values a close relationship with The United Methodist Church.
A sample schedule from 1955 listed the following activities offered by Atlantic Street Center: Modern Dance, Adult Sewing, Playschool, Summer Day Camp, Boy Scouts, Campfire Girls, Boys’ and Girls’ Chorus, and Teenage Nights.
Youth and Family Services
Today, Atlantic Street Center focuses on helping children of all ages to thrive educationally, socially, and emotionally, while also helping them gain the skills and strengths they will need to become healthy, contributing adults. The agency serves more than 3,000 children each year, providing a variety of programs and services for family support.
The Early Learning program uses books and toys to promote literacy, language development, and school readiness for young children. Parents are also taught how to stimulate their children’s learning. These methods prepare children to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.
The Youth Development Program provides learning and leadership opportunities for youth, helping them to increase the academic, personal, and social skills they will need to be successful in life. Services and activities focus on social skills and leadership development, opportunities for volunteer and community service, enrichment through cultural activities, and academic support (including summer school).
Family Support Services are provided by the Rainier Valley and New Holly Family Centers. These two centers are safe, supportive places for parents and families to learn, grow, and share ideas and concerns. Services and activities focus on support and education for adult and teenage parents, adult life skills and education classes, direct family support services, and positive cultural and recreational activities for children, youth, and whole families.
Mental Health Counseling Services are also provided at Atlantic Street Center. Therapists and case managers work together to help families served by the center increase their coping skills and family stability. Activities focus on positive behavioral changes, overcoming emotional challenges, psychiatric support, and recovery from trauma. All of these services are designed to help families cope effectively with the present while preparing for a productive future.
Darcy McInnis is the Communications Coordinator for the Resource Development Department of Atlantic Street Center in Seattle, Washington. Atlantic Street Center would like to thank Eleanor Boba of the Rainier Valley Historical Society for her contributions to this article.
Atlantic Street Center
For more information, see Atlantic Street Center’s website: www.atlanticstreet.org or contact us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 206-329-2050.