Timeline Of Nexus Inland NorthWest


Members of the Inland Empire Association of the Deaf (IEAD) began to identify unmet needs of the deaf community and to seek ways to meet those needs.  Spokane Association of the Deaf [SAD] was organized in 1908 to promote the general welfare of the deaf and was later renamed to IEAD.


A CETA-funded demonstration project was established in Spokane by the Division of Developmental Disabilities which was housed in the YWCA building. The purpose of this project was to conduct a needs assessment regarding the deaf community and to provide services for 40 deaf people in one year. Carl Irwin moved to Spokane. He had a degree in sign language from a California college and had taught at a school for the deaf. He took the CETA position.  He worked with the deaf leaders of SAD, as well as with individuals involved in teaching or serving as interpreters. The year’s objective was met in one month and 370 deaf clients were served in 18 months. Data collected during that 18-month period testified to an overwhelming unmet need for services with critical mental health problems, employment problems, and access problems.


Based on the needs assessment, Carl Irwin made a strong case with DDD and state government that there was a need for a position specializing in deafness because the needs of the deaf were not being met in the schools, hospitals, and social service agencies.  Carl Irwin was then hired as a Regional Deaf Services Coordinator working out of the YWCA building.  A Board of Trustees was formed by the leaders of the deaf community and professionals working with the deaf. Bylaws were adopted and articles of incorporation were filed with the Secretary of State to establish the Spokane Deaf Center with the signatures of these individuals: Rebecca Egbert, Ernest Berestoff, James Schroeder and Steve Malmin. Martin Hewitt, Joe Foley, Clyde Catron and Luther Sandberg were strong supporters. Washington voters passed Referendum 37 which authorized the sale of $25,000,000 in revenue bonds to provide facilities to serve the handicapped.  With Carl Irwin and his wife’s efforts at writing a grant proposal for this funding, Spokane County was eligible to receive $2,030,380 of these funds. Referendum 37 program guidelines were as follows:  “It is intended that all facilities considered for Ref. 37 funding will be sponsored by local public entities. Sponsorship involves ownership of or leasehold interest in a facility and a commitment to provide the proposed service for a number of years sufficient to amortize the state’s investment in the project”.


The Spokane Deaf Service Center and the Lilac Blind Foundation agreed to apply together for a joint facility and sought a local public sponsor. The Spokane County Commissioners agreed to let the County be the sponsor. The agreement was that this would be a multi-purpose, comprehensive service center where a wide variety of programs could rent space, placing all the key providers of services for the deaf in one location. It was hoped that the center would become a focal point for the deaf community, to be used for social and educational activities for children and adults. It was envisioned that this would evolve over time.


Out of 60 requests, the regional D.S.H.S. needs assessment gave this Center a number one priority as the least served group. Ref. 37 monies ($531,000) were granted to purchase and renovate the 13,000 square foot building, previously housing Unemployment Securities building on the NE corner of Boone and Howard Streets.


The final construction bid was accepted, signed and approved by both County and State levels. Work began shortly. The Center would be ready for occupancy in about four months after the renovations begun. The Spokane Deaf Service Center Board of Trustees and the Lilac Blind Foundation board of Directors formed the Deaf-Blind Service Center Management Committee with its own bylaws and IRS ID number. IRS granted a non-profit tax deductible status to the Spokane Deaf Service Center under section 501 (c) 3.