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Here’s how a new Tri-Cities building has a ‘chance to transform a neighborhood’

See inside new Boys & Girls Clubs Kennewick clubhouse

Branch director Luke Hallowell describes the newly constructed Kennewick Clubhouse of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties.
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Branch director Luke Hallowell describes the newly constructed Kennewick Clubhouse of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties.

Everything about the brandnew clubhouse is intentional.

From the secure entrance, to the layout with the games room as the hub, to the location itself.

Particularly the location.

That’s a big part of what makes it special, said Brian Ace, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties, which is opening the new clubhouse on West Seventh Place in Kennewick.

“Our mission is very simple, it’s to empower all young people — especially those who need us most — to reach their full potential. For years we’ve kind of flirted with that ‘especially those who need us most,’ but this is really the first time we’ve proactively said, ‘Where are the kids that need us most and how can we get a club there?’” Ace said.

Everything from crime to education data pointed to the neighborhood around the new site as that place, he said.

So, “for us to be here is pretty cool.”

The new 23,000-square-foot clubhouse opens in phases starting in January.

The self-contained preschool, with room for 30 kids, debuts Jan. 7.

The clubhouse will welcome middle and high schoolers starting Jan. 22, and elementary schoolers starting Feb. 4.

Once it’s fully open, the clubhouse will serve about 250 kids a day.

New Boy Girls Kennewick
Branch director Luke Hallowell, left, and executive director Brian Ace, both of Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties, stand in the teen center of the recently built clubhouse on West Ninth Place in Kennewick. Watch a video at: tricityherald.com/video Tri-City Herald

It aims to draw kids from the roughly six-block square between Fourth and 10th avenues and Olympia and Fruitland streets.

The area has more 1,000 school-age youth, and they face some serious challenges, including poverty, lower academic performance and housing insecurity, along with increased crime in the area, the club said.

The new clubhouse will have five full-time and about 15 part-time employees. Hiring is under way.

Luke Hallowell, formerly of the Downtown Pasco Development Authority, is the branch director.

The new clubhouse has “the chance to transform a neighborhood and have an incredible relationship with a neighborhood” — to not be near it, but to be in it and a part of it, he said.

It’ll be one of four traditional clubhouses in the local Boys & Girls Clubs’ system, along with two in Pasco and one in Prosser. The club also has 16 school-age licensed childcare programs and six early learning programs.

The new clubhouse is full of cool features.

Drone Club house high
The newly constructed 23,000-square-foot Kennewick clubhouse for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties at 910 W. 7th Pl. will soon be opening its doors. It’s located near neighborhoods that contains about 900 children and teens, according to club. Watch a video at: tricityherald.com/video Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

The entrance is secure, with kids buzzed in by a staffer at the front desk.

It has a sleek, spacious teen room, plus a games room that’ll be packed with everything from video to table games.

The games room will be the hub, Ace said — a place for kids to have fun while also learning things like cooperation, turn-taking, conflict resolution, communication and winning and losing with grace.

The club also has a learning center, art room, a technology lab, a full gymnasium and plenty more.

Along with serving kids in the neighborhood, it’ll also be a community resource, open after hours to groups such as youth sports leagues, churches and nonprofits such as Family Learning Center, which helps refugees.

Ace said the clubhouse is a testament to the community, which has contributed close to $6 million through a capital campaign. That covers the $4.8 million price tag for the new clubhouse land, construction, equipment and furnishings, plus an endowment to ensure sustainability, as well as enhancements and safety/security upgrades at other club facilities.

Drone Club house low
The newly built 23,000-square-foot Kennewick clubhouse for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties at on West Seventh Place in Kennewick will soon be opening its doors. Watch a video at: tricityherald.com/video Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

The new clubhouse is called the Eerkes Family Branch, in honor of campaign chairs Craig and Marilee Eerkes and their family — including mother Pamela and son and daughter-in-law Chris and Sarah — who all gave significant gifts.

A ribbon cutting is expected to be announced soon.

Ace said he’s excited for the clubhouse to open and begin its important work.

“One thing we know is that families want what’s best for their kids. But at the same time, families need to support to help ensure great futures for their kids,” Ace said. “That’s the work and the role that club has — to partner with families to ensure that those kids not only have a dream for what their future could be, but have the resources necessary to achieve that dream.”

The new clubhouse costs $20 a year for elementary youth, with financial help available, and is free to middle and high schoolers.

More information: greatclubs.org.

Sara Schilling writes about what makes the Tri-Cities home, including cool people doing cool things. She also pays special attention to children’s education, schools, health care and the arts. She grew up in Kennewick and attended Seattle Pacific University.
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