Sultan’s new Boys & Girls Club opens to enthusiastic approval

SULTAN — Dozens of kids have been without a permanent place to go before and after school since a Christmas Eve fire destroyed the Boys &Girls Club here more than four years ago.

Now the nonprofit has opened a newly built club. And it’s serving more kids than before, Director Cherise Crawford said.

“We couldn’t be happier,” she said. “The community really needed this.”

Since the club opened Tuesday, Crawford said, the number of kids served has increased from about 35 to 50. She plans to hire at least one more staff member right away.

Eventually, Crawford expects to need even more help to serve about 100 kids in the new space. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at the club, 605 First St.

The nonprofit hasn’t had a permanent home since Dec. 24, 2010, when a blaze gutted the two-story building at 705 First St. and a daycare center next door.

Within hours, Volunteers of America Western Washington offered space at the nearby Sky Valley Family and Community Resource Center. The kids shared the cramped building with seniors and those attending events until the new club was ready.

“It’s bigger and it’s better,” said Shelby Frye, 10. “We have more stuff to do and more space.”

The new $2 million building is home to programs that expose young people to education, art, sports and community service. There are lots of games, but there also is time for students to get serious.

“We do this thing called Power Hour,” said Logan Goodin, 8. “That’s when we do our homework.”

The 6,000-square-foot building on the Volunteers of America campus includes a game room, a computer lab, a kitchen and a teen center.

“It exceeded my expectations,” said Brendan Frye, 14. “Everyone who wants to have a fun time should come here.”

The new lab boasts 16 computers, with four more in the teen center. Kids were sharing two computers that worked intermittently at the VOA building.

The new club also has three Xbox One game devices and three flat-screen TVs.

“There’s a lot of good stuff,” said Tristan Lopez, 8.

During the wait for a new Sultan club, some kids attended the Monroe Boys &Girls Club. They came back to Sultan with a new favorite game known as carpet pool. It’s a long table on which players set up pool balls. They then roll the cue ball to knock as many of the colored balls as possible into a gutter at the end of the table.

A volunteer built a similar carpet-pool table for the Sultan club.

There are also conventional pool tables and air hockey and foosball games.

The teen center is for those in sixth grade and above.

“It’s very cool,” said Ashlynn Steele, 11.

Joyce Camacho, 12, said she’s glad younger kids aren’t allowed in the teen center. “Because we have all the snacks and we have Sharpies,” she said.

On Thursday afternoon, Bazil Jones, 14, was in the teen center assembling a complicated Lego set.

“It’s a major pain,” he said.

Several elementary school students were in the game room, creating arts and doing crafts at tables covered in yellow paper.

“I’m making a card because my mommy is in the hospital,” said Katie Williams, 7.

Club staffer Susan McCarrell helped her sound out the words she wanted to write.

Katie’s brother, Ronnie Williams, 6, was decorating a blue balloon for his mother. While he worked, he talked of seeing crocodiles, petting a baby alligator and getting “creeped out” by mice. He said he was glad to be at the new club.

“I love it so much,” he said of the new building. “It’s so awesome and cool.”

Sasha Sharpe, 7, said she and her little brother, Bruce, 6, agreed.

“It’s better than the old Boys &Girls Club,” she said.

Eventually, the new club is to be expanded to include a 7,000-square-foot gymnasium. The nonprofit is waiting to see if the Legislature approves $340,000 that could be put toward building it.

The hope is to break ground on the gym by the end of the year.

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; anile@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @AmyNileReports.

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