the CCC is our own creation
Community Cultural Center of Tonasket
~ facilities ~ history ~
by River Jones
Executive Director, 2004-2013
In the heart of downtown Tonasket stands the Community Cultural Center, a 7200 square foot building, in what was originally a Studebaker dealership in the early 1950's. Beginning as an automobile dealership and mechanics' shop, changing hands to an appliance store, a packing shed, and finally a tire and radiator repair shop, the old concrete building had many owners and uses.
Then in 1992, a small group of alternative-minded folks got together to purchase the building. Their vision was to create a safe and comfortable place for families to gather and enrich lives. Given the fact that the big, green building was so old, there was much that needed fixing, changing and renovating.
The original group, all volunteers, spent countless hours making the building comfortable, but were limited by a lack of funds to really bring it up to snuff. The old oil-burning furnaces were still in use, windows that were not boarded-up were single-pane and inadequate. The concrete-block walls showed daylight through in many places, and the electricity and plumbing were old and insufficient. This was all tolerable to the small initial group, but more and more of the “public” were coming in and beginning to enjoy the cultural events, classes and functions that were being offered. Something had to be done to improve the facility even more.
In 1996 the CCC became a legal non-profit, which made the possibility of applying for grants feasible. With a great deal of optimism, the small group decided to try their hand at seeking funds to sustain the organization. Some small grants were awarded, mainly for arts programs, enabling the CCC to offer classes for local children and entertainment for the community. Still, the facility was in dire need of renovations. With more research and participation, the group began to explore larger possibilities for funding.
Learning that there's plenty of money “out there” the task was to figure out how to obtain it. More research, collaborations, grant-writing instruction and determination ensued, and in the end the CCC received several substantial grants that totaled over $500,000! The building renovations were begun and the community would receive a beautiful, new, state-of-the-art Community Center! Now the inside renovations are done, and local folks can reap the benefits of this amazing accomplishment.
The CCC, as it is fondly called today, is a community hub serving the people of north Okanogan County in a myriad of ways. A public facility to rent, offering cultural events, a gathering place and a location for social services, the CCC is also a non-profit membership organization, over 200 strong.Given the fact that the CCC is a Membership Organization, there are in essence over 200 “owners”. This means the community can take personal satisfaction in the achievement that wouldn't have happened without their input; thousands of local dollars have been donated towards this goal, hundreds of volunteer hours have been donated, as well. What started as a small grassroots effort, the Community Cultural Center has become the pride of North Okanogan County!