A recent visit to the state of Washington allowed me to do two of my favorite things: visit Boys & Girls Clubs, and talk with kids. At the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bellevue, President/CEO Kathy Haggart brought me up to speed on a new project to replace their main Clubhouse. Already, they’ve already raised more than half of the $10.5 million they’ll need to construct the new Club in downtown Bellevue. Once the facility is complete, the Bellevue organization expects to reach over 70 percent more kids in the growing community. Kathy and her team are doing an awesome job building energy and commitment for this project in the community.
We then headed to Pasco, which lies on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountain Range, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties . Executive Director Brian Ace and I took part in a panel discussion with Club teens, who shared what they see as challenges in attracting more teens and recommended ways to enhance programs and facilities. I also met the Club’s Youth of the Year, Alexia Estrada. Alexia, who just began her freshman year at college, actually sent me a video back in February expressing her desire to one day become president and CEO of BGCA. We had a wonderful conversation. Alexia is clearly a young woman bound for great things.
Our final stop was Moses Lake, for the dedication of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Columbia Basin's newest Clubhouse. I wish you could have heard all the kids arriving, asking with excitement, “Is it open yet,” and seen the hundreds of youth flow through the doors with the biggest smiles on their faces. Priceless.
Executive Director Brant Mayo and his team have a strong partnership with Park Orchard Elementary School, which is just next door. I spent a great deal of time with the school superintendent and principal discussing the partnership. They agreed strongly that the Club assists kids and teens with their academic performance. The school will use the Club during the day; while the Club will use the gym, cafeteria and tech center after school. The facility’s unique design allows for a seamless transition.
Brant envisions growth of 75 plus kids per day at the new site, including more teens with its dedicated teen space. The organization has experienced nice advancement in many areas with growth in teen membership, ADA and revenue.
It was a great day for kids and teens in Washington state and a great day for America. Communities continue to come together to do what’s right for kids and build Great Futures!