Progress Edition

Boys & Girls Club of Benton and Franklin Counties: Youth benefit from region’s generosity

Jose Torres, Senior at Chiawana High School, was chosen to represent his peers as the 2019 Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties Youth of the Year.
Jose Torres, Senior at Chiawana High School, was chosen to represent his peers as the 2019 Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties Youth of the Year. Courtesy Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties

2018 was an indescribable year for Boys & Girls Club. Since our inception in 1996, we have been a growing organization with the ongoing goal to serve more youth in our community. The purpose of Boys & Girls Clubs is to provide safe spaces for youth where they are surrounded by caring and committed adults, encouraging them to achieve great things for their future. However, 2018 saw our mission and work take a huge step forward as we realized two dreams for our organization.

First, 2018 saw the culmination of our Great Futures TRI-CITIES! campaign as well as the construction and completion of our new clubhouse in Kennewick, the Eerkes Family Branch. This 23,000-square-foot facility opened its doors in January of 2019, and is increasing in the number of youth it serves on a weekly basis. Located in one of the most densely populated, low-income neighborhoods in Tri-Cities, we are committed to serve those young people who need us most.

Two of our hopes and dreams have already been realized for this clubhouse. We had a goal of serving a large number of middle and high school youth, those most in need of mentoring, guidance and encouragement. We are proud to say that this has proved to be the case! We had also hoped to have our staff and membership reflect the diversity of the neighborhood we serve. This has also come to fruition. Walking through the clubhouse is a reminder of the beautiful diversity we have throughout our cities. The generosity of our community made this club possible, and the generosity of the community will sustain this work moving forward.

2018 was also a time of rapid growth, as we became the official child care provider for the Richland School District. In August, we opened 10 new school-based clubs and 2 preschool programs throughout Richland and West Richland. In a recent survey, parents expressed great confidence in our staff, programs, and positive impact on the young people we serve. However, this growth is just the first step. As part of our work with the district, we have committed to reinvesting revenue from these programs to reduce the income-based achievement gap in the district. This partnership will allow us to expand our traditional clubs into Richland in the future to help realize this vision.

With these two developments and other program changes, we are serving 40 percent more youth than in previous years. Growth is encouraging and exciting; however, it also comes with challenges. To have the most impact on our youth, these programs must be maintained and provide high quality for years to come. In 2019, we are focusing our staff and board on sustainability and structure for the future. To that end, we are committed to the following:

▪  Increased board and staff focus on sustainable fundraising, including the development of a planned giving program with a focus on endowed funds.

▪  A strategic task force composed of community leaders to identify the needs of youth in Pasco. We have been serving this community for 20 years. We want to ensure that we are serving the right youth, in the right locations, to their greatest benefit.

▪  A strategic task force composed of community leaders identifying strategic expansion into Richland. Where in Richland are the young people who need us most? Should we focus on children or teens? How can we create brighter futures for Richland youth?

We express a sincere “Thank You” to our community on behalf of the additional youth we are serving following this season of growth. You have entrusted the most valuable resource into our care – our children. Now, we ask that you commit to their future, and the future of our community, with renewed support to ensure that we remain a consistent resource for children and teens in need. We are dedicated to providing the opportunity for great futures for our youth. That opportunity is given because of the support of caring people like you.