The Young Professionals of Lewis County gathered for their informal monthly meeting at the Olympic Club Wednesday evening, and whether attendees came to network or to socialize — either is fine with this laid back group — almost everyone left with a glimpse of what’s on the horizon for the Centralia College Foundation (CCF).
Christine Fossett, executive director of the CCF, spoke to the 18 young professionals on hand about a number of new projects her organization has in the works, but chiefly she previewed The Southwest Washington Flexible Training Center, or SWFT Center.
The SWFT Center, which is scheduled to break ground on Friday, March 6, will be a 12,000-square-foot training facility that will house the classrooms for various training programs that are requested by local businesses and institutions in Lewis County.
“We could bring in framers and frame a tiny home back there, and then the next week do a class on plumbing, and then the next week do a class on electrical,” said Fossett. “Then we roll it out the door and bring the next group in for sawmill training, or whatever the community needs.”
And because the SWFT Center is owned by the foundation, rather than the college, it gives Fossett and her organization the freedom to cater the building to the needs of the community.
“Normally when a college builds a building they’re going to fill it full of classrooms and students five days a week, the community doesn’t get to use it until the weekend,” Fossett said. “(The SWFT Center) will be a community building first.”
Though most of the Young Professionals stayed for Fossett’s presentation, a couple attendees stayed for just the first hour of the event, which is the networking/socializing portion of the evening. Each event roughly follows the same itinerary: the first hour is carved out as a cocktail hour, then the presentation will commence, followed by more networking.
Rarely do folks go home feeling like they didn’t get what they came for, according to several members.
Alicia Bossert, a branch operations manager for Security State Bank, has been a member for about a year and says when she first came to an event it was for equal parts networking and socializing, though she will admit she was timid at the events to begin with and her attendance was inconsistent.
That was until Amanda Ditzhazy, a communications development manager for the American Cancer Society, started to show up shortly after Bossert first started attending the monthly events. The two had known each other from Lewis County’s Relay For Life events, a cause that is mutually near to their hearts.
“I want to say I saw (Bossert) at an August event … and said ‘let’s get together and we need to come to these,’” said Ditzhazy.
Bossert credited Ditzhazy with sparking the social butterfly in her.
“I am not a very social person normally, so I’ve really come out of my box this year,” she said. Newer faces like Chris Martin and Samantha Martin, who are siblings, aren’t members yet but have enjoyed their experience at the few events they’ve been to enough to come back.
Chris Martin, a Centralia College graduate and now an IT technician for the Lewis County Police Department, said he comes with the intent to network.
“I’m interested in what Lewis County is doing with IT and emerging technologies,” said Chris. “I’m curious to see where our infrastructure is going and I’m curious to see what technologies we’re looking to bring to the county with different businesses … so mostly I’m here to network.”
While his sister, Samantha, a customer service rep for the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, says she’s more interested in the social aspect of the gathering.
“Just to see what other young people are doing in the community,” Samantha said regarding what she hopes to get out of attending the events. “I just talked to a guy with his own accounting business, and he’s pretty young so it’s inspirational for me.”
The Young Professionals of Lewis County’s next meeting will be Wednesday, March 11, at Dicks Brewery located at 3516 Galvin Road in Centralia.