Officials from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County recently performed a walkthrough of the old Yelm City Hall building to further plan how they are going to use the space when the new club starts operating from the building this fall.
Shellica Trevino, director of operations for Boys and Girls Clubs of Thurston County, said the best aspect of the location for the new Yelm Boys and Girls Club is that there are few improvements that she and her fellows will have to make.
“This (place) is really ready to go,” she said. “We walk in and yeah there's' some paint here and some flooring there ... but there's really no overhaul. We're ready to go as soon as we put some paint up and garner support for the actual operations.”
In order for the club to run in its planned first three years, Boys and Girls Clubs of Thurston County will have to get community buy-in, said Chris Woods, CEO of the organization.
“In the coming weeks, we'll be going public with our plan, coming out into the community, going out to businesses and community members, asking them to partner with us,” Woods said. “We will be really letting them know that our goal is to raise $600,000, which will give us enough money for operating costs for the next three years. Then, during the time that we're operating, we could build a base of sustainable revenue and be able to keep the club going long term.”
But to get that community support, Woods and company will have to communicate just what it is the Boys and Girls Clubs of Thurston County hopes to accomplish in Yelm.
Trevino said that to start, the Yelm Boys and Girls Club is going to meet a need that is present in the community.
“I think there's a huge under-service to youth in Yelm,” she said. “I think the community is trying really hard to do more and more for the kids and their families, but there's a huge component that missing — Monday through Friday after-school programming for a good number of kids who are at risk.”
By “at risk” she means youths who are in low-to-moderate income situations or have attendance or behavioral problems at school, among other criteria.
“Our common focus is low-moderate income and identifying kids in that space first,” Trevino said. “Of course we want to serve all kids and Boys and Girls Clubs can benefit all kids, but kids in low-mod income circumstances don't have access to enrichment activities that other kids do.”
Some of these enrichment activities will be held in a large room in the old Yelm City Hall that the city had put dividers in. Trevino said this space would house a game room.
Since social recreation is a large focus of the organization, kids will be encouraged to play together, learning how to build friendships and how to both lose or win at games.
There are also several offices that will be converted into usable space for the club.
“We call them offices, right?” Trevino said. “People used them as offices, but they are big enough to be classrooms for our programing. One of them will be an art room. Another one will be an education room. We devote one to just homework.”
In addition, some of the chambers could be used as a middle school teen center for sixth, seventh and eighth grade students. There is also space for a director's office and a conference room that could be used for multipurpose programing. Finally, there's an old office that's perfect for a computer lab, Trevino said.
Ultimately, Woods said the program is also supposed to reach into the lives of the participating kids and guide them toward a successful life.
He said that the Boys and Girls Clubs of Thurston County doesn't want to simply move into the community, but be part of the community, and that starts with making a meaningful difference in the lives of the community's youth.
“We see this as an extension of the school day, being able to work on academics; give social-, emotional- and mental-health support; and help the children become contributing members of their community,” he said.