‘She would really be excited’: Sandy’s vision takes shape at the Carl Maxey Center

SPOKANE, Wash. — The late Sandy Williams was not only the Executive Director, but the founder of the Carl Maxey Center.

She had big dreams for what it could be for the Black community from the beginning.

“Sandy drove by and saw this old building and started thinking about a place where we could gather and belong,” said board chair of the Carl Maxey Center Betsy Wilkerson.

It was during a small gathering over a plate of barbecue that Sandy Williams laid out her ideas for the Carl Maxey Center.

In just three years, the building Sandy saw was purchased and it’s been a place of belonging, support and resources for the Black community in Spokane ever since.

“That is like lightning speed in the non-profit world,” said Wilkerson. “Buy a building, get it remodeled, get it open, provide services and then start your second phase of expansion, all with great community support and allies.”

Thanks to 4 News Now’s Mark Peterson and the Extreme Team, that second phase is happening right now.

PHOTOS: Day 3 of the Extreme Team’s project at the Carl Maxey Center

Before her untimely passing, Sandy was in talks about adding a cultural library, outdoor space and much more to the Center.

Program Coordinator Jillisa Winkler says she didn’t anticipate being so far along on what Sandy wanted.

“It really feels like the building’s getting close to being done and we can start moving on all of the ideas and all the things we wanted to do here,” said Winkler.

But Sandy herself wouldn’t have wanted to take all the credit.

“She would be really excited, but she would not be in front of a camera,” said Wilkerson.

Wilkerson says the past three years have been transformative for the Carl Maxey Center.

Sandy’s mission from the beginning was to inspire, empower and uplift the Black community.

That foundation has been laid — it can only be built upon from here.

“When it’s on paper, you just can’t imagine it,” said Wilkerson. “But seeing it with the walls up and it painted and the artwork and to see how the space has been used already, even though it’s not totally built out, people have been coming here and they say it feels like home and they say they feel like they belong here.”

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