Grants open doors of Boys & Girls Clubs to county children

A hot meal, a pick-up basketball game, a safe home away from home for kids. That mission of the Boys &Girls Clubs of Snohomish County, to nurture thousands of children, has gotten a big boost with four grants totaling $105,000.

Stephanie Selin, the organization’s development director, said this week that the largest grant, $50,000, was awarded recently by the Pacific Youth Foundation. The California-based foundation primarily supports Boys &Girls Clubs in the western U.S.

This is the third year the Boys &Girls Clubs of Snohomish County has received the $50,000 award. Selin said the money will support programs that would otherwise require participants to pay fees. Local clubs serve about 17,000 children, many whose families can’t afford $30 annual memberships, Selin said.

With the $50,000 grant, child care, sports and other activities at the organization’s 19 clubs and 15 school-based sites in Snohomish County will be free for many kids.

Two other grants will support Boys &Girls Clubs of Snohomish County food programs.

The EverTrust Foundation awarded a $25,000 grant to support Kids Cafe, which provides meals and snacks, and Healthy Habits programs at four Everett clubs.

Andie Allred, program director at the Everett Boys &Girls Clubs, said between 50 and 80 children are served free dinners at 5 p.m. on weekdays. “We average about 1,000 dinners per month. That doesn’t count breakfasts and snacks for child-care kids,” she said.

The Trailside Club, open since 2007, offers dinners twice a week. Near Everett Mall next to the Trailside Village apartment complex, the Trailside Club offers free memberships for all before- and after-school programs. The South Everett/Mukilteo Club serves weekday breakfasts, and the Cascade Club provides hot snacks on weekdays.

A $20,000 grant from The Everett Clinic Foundation also will be used for food at clubs countywide, Selin said. “On an average day, we serve about 3,400 kids. That $20,000 goes a long way for food,” she said.

Allred is pleased that the EverTrust grant will support Healthy Habits. The program focuses on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Serving Up MyPlate: A Yummy Curriculum,” which helps kids understand the importance of healthful eating and exercise.

At the club’s dinners, kids get a main course, fruit, vegetables and milk or water. “With the Healthy Habits program, they get to learn why their plates look like they do, with more vegetables than meat or fruit,” Allred said.

Teenagers will benefit from a $10,000 grant awarded by the Nysether Family Foundation. It will pay for Teen Nights at clubs throughout the county. Held on Friday or Saturday nights at most clubs, Teen Nights offer a safe haven for kids to socialize and engage in activities.

At the Everett club, Teen Nights are scheduled for 8-11 p.m. every Friday. “It’s common to have at least 50 teens,” Allred said. Some play video games or just hang out, but sports are popular. “The majority of them come down for volleyball or basketball,” Allred said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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