New resident takes over community center duties
January 12, 2017
It wasn't long after Kelly Patterson found her new home in Cathlamet that she found her new home away from home, the Wahkiakum Community Center.
Patterson is the new coordinator.
"We moved here in April," Patterson said. "We were supposed to look at all sorts of houses in Ilwaco, Kalama. And then we got here. I saw my house and I said, 'That's my house.'"
According to Patterson, she and her husband Scott, a small business consultant, fell in love with the town immediately.
An active, energetic and positive person, she was quick to make friends around the community. She had a plot at the community garden, and spent time at the library. It was while participating in the Tidy the Town volunteer event in October that she found out about the job.
Just like her house, it was the perfect fit.
While living in the Eugene area, Patterson worked in the school system. She did a variety of things, but spoke most excitedly about a 21st Century Grant that she helped coordinate in Junction City, Ore.
"We had a really nice program there," Patterson said. They were able to set up an after school program. They had tutoring and arts education with dance, music and more.
"It was so well set up they had dinner and a bus ride home," Patterson said. "It was so successful they piggy-backed other grants on top of it. They got more arts education and a lot of pilot programs. It was really great."
After that, she was involved in a transition program to assist youths with disabilities who were in high school or just out of high school. They helped the young people find employment or pick up job experience. She helped them with resumes, they volunteered, held mock interviews, attended seminars, worked on getting their driver's licenses or learned to use the public transportation system.
"I loved that job," Patterson. "I still keep in touch with a lot of those kids."
Now she's focused her energy on the community center.
"This is a great opportunity," she said. "This building is fantastic. It was open for so long and people kept it going even when it closed its doors. That's a great spirit. This community is amazing. People help each other. So I thought, well, I'd love to do something like this, to help my community grow and get vibrant again."
Patterson spoke about the many resources and opportunities that a community center can provide for everyone in the community.
"People can come here if they just need some help," she said. "We're talking about keeping it open as long as we can when it's cold so people can come in here and just have some coffee and hang out."
There is a book club and a group comes in periodically to play bunco.
"I don't know if people realize what a gold mine this is," Patterson said. "We have computers, free internet, wifi. WorkSource is coming out. Goodwill is too."
They also hope to reconnect with Lower Columbia College.
Eventually, she would like to see the community center open longer hours. Her position is limited to 15 hours a week, but the center is open from 9-1 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and from 9-12 on Thursday thanks to volunteers.
"We're so proud of this place, we want it to do well," Joyce Orr, a volunteer said.
"We want to see it become a vibrant center again," Patterson said. "It's for everybody, it's for activities. We want to see people utilizing this space for all sorts of great stuff. So come on in, if you need a class, socialization, finding help, services."
The Pattersons are Ohio natives, born and raised in Cleveland. Despite spending the last 30 years in the Northwest, they root for the Cavaliers and Kelly puts out her Browns flag every Sunday. Their two kids, Ryan and Brenna, started their education in Battle Ground and graduated from high school in Eugene.
Patterson likes to garden, read, and walk. She also likes to take the ferry. If you know a good piano teacher, she's looking for one.