From left: Mayor Jim Ferrell, King County Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer, FUSION Executive Director Robin O’Grady, FUSION Founder Peggy LaPorte, former Speaker Frank Chopp and Sen. Claire Wilson at the ribbon cutting ceremony on Oct. 8 Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror

From left: Mayor Jim Ferrell, King County Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer, FUSION Executive Director Robin O’Grady, FUSION Founder Peggy LaPorte, former Speaker Frank Chopp and Sen. Claire Wilson at the ribbon cutting ceremony on Oct. 8 Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror

FUSION opens first shelter for homeless families in Federal Way

First families expected to move in around mid-November.

Federal Way’s first-ever short-term shelter for homeless families opened last week, and just like its namesake, the Pete Andersen FUSION Family Center is a big deal.

Local nonprofit FUSION celebrated the ribbon cutting, hosted by the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce, for the building on Oct. 8.

With 90 beds available in 29 rooms, the new shelter is expected to serve 116 families a year, or 406 individuals, with more than 250 of those anticipated to be children. The first families are expected to move in around mid-November.

Founded in 1993, FUSION works to help families experiencing homelessness transition into permanent housing. To date, FUSION owns and manages 21 transitional housing units in the Tacoma and Federal Way areas.

The Pete Andersen FUSION Family Center, formerly the site of an old and shabby hotel, underwent a transformation to become a place of hope and healing.

“This is such an exciting day for FUSION,” said Executive Director Robin O’Grady.

For 28 years, FUSION has helped hundreds of families go from homelessness and hopelessness to healing and self-sufficiency, O’Grady told the physically-distanced crowd on Oct. 8.

Along with safe emergency accommodations, the family center also offers individualized support, access to case management, employment development resources and after-school activities for children. The wrap-around services allow families to progress on the path toward permanent housing, employment and self-sufficiency, O’Grady said.

The project was completed with the help of a $1 million donation from the Lennar Foundation on behalf of former Lennar Homes associate Pete Andersen, who died from COVID-19 in March.

The new shelter is essentially “our hearts in the form of a building,” said Julie Siegler, FUSION board member and marketing director of Lennar Homes.

Andersen, 43, worked for Lennar Homes for seven years and was known by everyone at Lennar as “The Big Deal” because he was a big deal, Siegler said. He was funny, liked square dancing and was known for his big smile and his heart of gold, she said.

Andersen was one of the first people in the country to become diagnosed with COVID-19, and became the third person in the United States to die from the disease, she said.

“We didn’t get to say goodbye,” she said. “Because that may be one of the saddest parts of this illness, is the alone-ness.”

Andersen was a supporter of Lennar’s Focused Acts of Caring, which gives back to local communities. When Lennar learned of the FUSION shelter project, Lennar — and Andersen — wanted to be part of it.

Once the Lennar Foundation, a separate entity from the company, found out about the project and Andersen’s support, the foundation decided to donate $1 million to the shelter in honor of The Big Deal.

“We saw early on the vision [how] it would help those families with children get back on their feet,” said Siegler, glancing at the building. “This is a place of hope.”

Andersen’s mother, wife and their three children were in attendance of the event as honored guests.

Several residents were honored for their contributions to the project, along with words spoken by former Washington State House Speaker Frank Chopp, State Sen. Claire Wilson, King County Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer, and Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell.

For more information about the shelter and its resources, visit FUSIONfederalway.org


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

The Pete Andersen FUSION Family Center is located at 1505 S. 328th Street in Federal Way. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror

The Pete Andersen FUSION Family Center is located at 1505 S. 328th Street in Federal Way. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror

The Pete Andersen FUSION Family Center is located at 1505 S. 328th Street in Federal Way. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror

The Pete Andersen FUSION Family Center is located at 1505 S. 328th Street in Federal Way. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror

FUSION Founder Peggy LaPorte gestures to the crowd in thanks at the ribbon cutting ceremony on Oct. 8. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror

FUSION Founder Peggy LaPorte gestures to the crowd in thanks at the ribbon cutting ceremony on Oct. 8. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror

More in News

Public Health – Seattle & King County staff administering COVID-19 vaccine to a local emergency responder. COURTESY PHOTO, Public Health-Seattle & King County
Thousands of COVID-19 vaccine appointments open at Auburn, Kent clinics

Appointments available through April 26, says Public Health – Seattle & King County.

Superintendent Dr. Tammy Campbell
Federal Way Public Schools Superintendent Tammy Campbell stepping down in June

Deputy Superintendent Dr. Dani Pfeiffer appointed as incoming superintendent starting July 1, 2021.

A student holds a sign that reads "I can't breathe" at the protest on June 10, 2020, outside of Thomas Jefferson High School. (Olivia Sullivan/staff photo)
Federal Way mayor on Chauvin verdict: ‘This was the right decision’

City’s police department has made policy changes in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

The Redondo Beach boat launch is located at Redondo Beach Drive South in Des Moines. Photo courtesy of South King Fire
Man saved from car after driving into water off Redondo Beach boat launch

South King Fire rescue swimmer pulled the man from the sinking car around 12:30 a.m. April 16.

Lydia Assefa-Dawson
Federal Way Councilmember Lydia Assefa-Dawson announces run for King County Council District 7

Assefa-Dawson pledges to bring leadership and perspectives as a housing advocate, person with disabilities, immigrant, and mom to a seat held by 28-year incumbent.

Screenshot
Black Education Strategy Roundtable receives grant to advance racial equity

Federal Way-based organization aims to create equitable educational opportunities for Black students.

File photo
Multiple apartments, vehicles struck in shooting at Federal Way complex | Police blotter

Following is a sample from the Federal Way police log April 7-13.

Photo via Pexels
King County residents needed for first respiratory study using Apple watches

UW study to help find if devices can detect early warning signs of acute respiratory infections, such as COVID-19 and flu.

Pexels photo
Celebrate Centerstage 2021 fundraiser kicks off May 9

Proceeds from the annual event benefit artist stipends, education programming and general operations.

Most Read