A few months ago I wrote about how Renton derives its strength from its neighborhoods. While there is no doubt about that, Renton also derives its regional strength from its unique partnerships, commonly known as the “five-legged stool.” The City of Renton, Renton Chamber of Commerce, Renton Technical College (RTC), Renton School District and Valley Medical Center comprise Renton’s five-legged stool where each of the entities combines its expertise to maximize the overall potential. Together they provide jobs, keep our citizens happy, offer an excellent career college, quality education and contribute to the health of the workforce. Strong education goes hand in hand with a thriving business community, a city that provides exceptional services and a high quality of life and outstanding healthcare services. Most importantly, strong partnerships create a spirit of collaboration and a thriving community.
A recent example of the power of these partnerships is “Renton Heart Month,” when the city encourages people to take action to increase their awareness and reduce their risk of heart disease. The city provided free blood sugar and blood pressure screenings. This year, the campaign partnered with RTC to provide free classes at the college to learn CPR and how to use an automatic external defibrillator. Renton is also the only city in the region that has the Renton Emergency Preparedness Academy, a partnership of the city and RTC that offers free seminars and training in diverse topics such as “How to Earthquake Proof Your Home,” “Crime Prevention” and “Map Your Neighborhood Facilitator Training.”
The city’s partnership with the Renton Chamber of Commerce remains invaluable. The Chamber represents the business community and promotes commerce, tourism, and economic development in Renton. Whether it is a special ribbon-cutting event, or the Small Business Development Center, a unique resource for local businesses in Renton, the city’s partnership with the chamber and its members has helped provide financial support and volunteers, and markets Renton as a place for businesses to thrive.
Valley Medical Center is the largest non-profit healthcare provider between Seattle and Tacoma and serves more than 400,000 residents as a regional center operating a network of 12 community clinics throughout King County. Valley Medical Center continues to sponsor charity care and continually supports community programs in Renton and throughout the region. During Renton Heart Month, VMC helped the city promote the program and also incorporated blood sugar and blood pressure screenings into its Golden Care program for seniors.
The fifth leg of the stool is the Renton School District. I think its mission statement sums it up quite well: In partnership with the community, provide a safe and respectful learning environment for all students to realize academic, social and personal achievement; Launching Learning to Last a Lifetime. Since 1995, the City of Renton has teamed up with the Renton School District to form Communities in Schools, with a vision to help students achieve their maximum potential. City Council members, Renton School Board members and many city employees are mentors and every week 135 children are mentored by an adult.
In light of these tough economic times and in this spirit of continued cooperation I look forward to working with the city’s administration to see if we can strengthen these partnerships. Specifically, evaluating the region’s assets such as parks, fields, pools and schools to determine if they are being utilized efficiently and if we are maximizing their use. For example, can we have city staff available at school buildings when school is not in session, so that the public can access the facilities after hours? Could the city’s Community Services Department assist in maintaining and scheduling local ball fields so they can be used around the clock? Could we offer our kids more after-school opportunities by integrating city and school programs, and also coordinate with the efforts of local non-profit organizations? All of the entities in this coalition are prepared to continue to work together to keep Renton the center of opportunity in the Puget Sound region. I think there is amazing potential in this idea and I look forward to working with all the legs of the stool as we seek to maximize service opportunities for our citizens.
Rich Zwicker is a member of the Renton City Council and a member of the Renton Technical College Board of Trustees. He is a paralegal in the Washington state Attorney General’s Office.
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