Keoni Diacan helps Risingsun Kalam put ketchup on her french fries as Donald Keju Jr. looks on during a 2015 dinner at the Everett Boys & Girls Club. (Herald file)

Keoni Diacan helps Risingsun Kalam put ketchup on her french fries as Donald Keju Jr. looks on during a 2015 dinner at the Everett Boys & Girls Club. (Herald file)

A modern-day Boys & Girls Club looks to reconnect with alumni

Former Everett members are being asked to get more involved as the organization faces growing demand.

EVERETT — In 1946, north Everett became home to the first Boys & Girls Club in Snohomish County.

It was meant to be a flagship.

Over the years, the club on 12th Street has lost some of that luster, director Jake Marsh said. Still, some 300 children and teens arrive every day.

“It’s amazing what they do … ” said Joe Cronin, a club alumnus who serves on the board. “So many kids are coming through there. They’re getting fed and they’re studying and they’re playing games. The community really needs it.”

Marsh and Cronin are working together on a campaign to connect with alumni. They want to build relationships, and there’s also a fundraising element.

Marsh took over the club in September, after six years of directing the location on Casino Road. He inherited a 2018 budget that comes up short by more than $100,000. It’s a hurdle for any nonprofit, particularly in this part of town, he said.

If the club raised its prices, families would be left out, often those most in need, Marsh said.

Sports are among the activities at the Everett Boys & Girls Club. (Everett Boys & Girls Club)

Sports are among the activities at the Everett Boys & Girls Club. (Everett Boys & Girls Club)

“We serve a population that is tremendously at-risk, looking for somewhere safe before and after school,” he said.

The club provides programs for ages 5 to 18, as well as licensed child care. Demand is growing. The 12th Street location recently lowered its child care rates and forgave outstanding bills.

Those are a few changes among many as Marsh looks to revamp the club.

His family and many others around the county have ties to the building. Marsh grew up in Snohomish. His dad, Curt Marsh, a former player for the Oakland Raiders, participated in sports at the north Everett club. Curt Marsh’s name is among those in the alumni displays in the hall.

Other notable locals include former Everett Mayor Ed Hansen, auto dealer Tom Lane and Everett High School Principal Lance Balla.

“There’s a rich history here,” Jake Marsh said.

Homework help and academics are built into the programs at the Boys & Girls Club in north Everett. (Everett Boys & Girls Club)

Homework help and academics are built into the programs at the Boys & Girls Club in north Everett. (Everett Boys & Girls Club)

At the club those folks once attended, a lot is going on. Young people are growing their own fruits and vegetables. The site just became a transportation hub for Everett School District students experiencing homelessness. It’s also providing free memberships to the 240-plus households being displaced by the Baker Heights redevelopment.

Summer camp registration opened Tuesday. In addition, the club is taking part in the meetings for the city’s advisory group on addressing gang violence. It hosted the first gathering.

Cronin’s connection is one of legacy, as well. His family has a long history of giving in Everett and Lake Stevens, including through Boys & Girls clubs.

Cronin, 37, grew up in the Everett club, playing basketball and football. Later, he became a teacher and coach, and he spent time at Cascade and Lake Stevens high schools. In those roles, he learned even more how important programs are for young people.

An indoor garden is under way at the Everett Boys & Girls Club, where young people are growing fruits and vegetables. (Everett Boys & Girls Club)

An indoor garden is under way at the Everett Boys & Girls Club, where young people are growing fruits and vegetables. (Everett Boys & Girls Club)

The two-year alumni campaign is set to launch with a small gathering May 8. A public open house is planned for June 7. Marsh and Cronin hope more people get involved.

Everett is the “biggest small-town ever,” Cronin said. “You’re always one person away from knowing someone.”

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @rikkiking.

Learn more

For more information about the Everett Boys & Girl Club, including the alumni effort, contact director Jake Marsh at jmarsh@bgcsc.org or 425-259-5147.

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