A look inside the Boys & Girls Club of Kootenai County

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The Boys & Girls Club of Kootenai County offers a safe place for kids and teens to spend time during non-school hours. On a national level, the Boys & Girls Club serves 4 million youth across 4,000+ facilities. On a local level, the Clubs in Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls offer afterschool and summer programming supported by trained youth development staff, passionate volunteers and the generous financial support of the North Idaho Community at large.

Programming covers anti-bullying initiatives, community service, education and career development, fine arts, drama, dance, creative writing and numerous sports and fitness activities.

Ongoing school-year memberships are just $20, serving kids and teens ages 6-18.

Live Well asked the Boys & Girls Club of Kootenai County to share just a few details of the programming offered in Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls. Executive director Ryan Davis, director of operations Drew Curry, and director of development Nicole Hammons graciously responded.- Tyler Wilson

LIVE WELL: How many children and families in Kootenai County are served by the Boys and Girls Club?

DREW CURRY, director of operations: Between the two Clubs we serve around 450-500 kids a day for our afterschool programs. We have the capability to serve more and hope to always be available to those in the community that need us the most.

We believe in constantly improving the impact we have within the community until everyone who needs help receives it. If we cannot offer the ability to help others we will direct them to some of the other incredible nonprofits and specialized agencies within our area.

LIVE WELL: Membership prices are incredibly inexpensive. How is the local Boys and Girls Club funded, and how do you maintain your services?

CURRY: We keep the price so low because we believe there should not be a financial hurdle in

providing our services to families that need us. We are 80% community funded, meaning individuals and businesses in North Idaho who have supported us financially. We’ve also been extremely fortunate in raising money throughout the year, especially during our annual auction every September.

LIVE WELL: What are some things about the Boys and Girls Club that you want the public to know about your programming?

RYAN DAVIS, executive director: The Boys & Girls Club of Kootenai County is way more than simply a place for kids to come and hang out. We have a huge variety of programs that focus on art, technology, coding, self-esteem and physical exercise. We even have staff and volunteers who work with our kids to teach them not only how to eat smart, but also how to prepare healthy food.

LIVE WELL: How can people support the Club - donations, volunteer opportunities, etc.?

DAVIS: The Club is always in need of individuals who are willing to invest: Time, talent and treasures. The Club is able to run many of the amazing programs we do because of folks who have the time to volunteer.

We are also always looking for community members with unique skills sets who could teach classes, assist in grant writing, even opening their business for Club tours. Finally, the Club runs off of investments of finances. We are always extremely appreciative of individuals, families, businesses and foundations willing to invest in the programs and the lives of the youth we serve.

LIVE WELL: How does the Boys & Girls Club approach the topic of bullying?

CURRY: We try our best to teach our members how to handle disagreements with each other and hopefully stop problems elevating to bullying. Teaching life skills is a huge prevention method, but we have multiple programs like “Hey Girl,Hey Man” Club, that highlight how to be nice and handle different situations with a huge focus on conflict resolution.

LIVE WELL: How do you help teens with your College Bound program?

CURRY: College Bound is a program implemented out of LA Harbor that helps high school students navigate the complexity of what it is to apply to college. We received a three-year grant from Americorps Vista to get College Bound running by the end of its third year, which is

this August. We’ve taken about 20-30 teens to local businesses, KTECH, universities, etc. to help ignite a desire for planning for post-secondary education. We’ve tested how the program will completely look on some of our past graduates and we’ve had some success, which is measured by the activities after high school.

LIVE WELL: Many parents in the community look to the Club to provide programming for elementary-age children in the time between end-of-school and the end of a traditional-work day. Is it more challenging to bring in older kids?

CURRY: At our Post Falls location we’ve been lucky to have a lot of our middle schoolers grow up within the Club and continue to be involved as they enter middle school. Also, in Coeur d’Alene we are fortunate to be on Lakes Middle School property, allowing easy access for students there to be involved with the Club.

We’re always trying to find the best way to reach and help high schoolers, sometimes with a teen night or 3-on-3 tournaments, but because our youth in this community are so mobile, it can be a challenge.

LIVE WELL: Do you have programs where children/teens participate in helping their peers?

CURRY: We have had programs that have paired up teens with some of the younger Club members. Also, through a grant with the Post Falls Police Department, we’ve been able to have a licensed counselor involved that with our Post Falls Club. She, along with one of our staff, ran a program called Allies, which had teens checking in with younger club members and

helping them out with things within the Club.

LIVE WELL: How does your programming encourage ideas of civic responsibility, positive values and other aspects of your mission statements?

NICOLE HAMMONS, director of development: All of of our programs, such as Smart Girls, teach self-esteem and to be inclusive. We do projects that teach about giving back to the community, such as working on a community garden in the summer, as well as having our Torch Club volunteering in the community. We feel that we are successful by learning what the kids value and getting them to come back for more. Our staff is passionate about what they do and that is a direct trickle down to our kids.

LIVE WELL: Anything new about the local Club in 2018?

HAMMONS: In 2018 we hope to keep growing our programs for Club members, as well as incorporate more family nights and community events. We have a few new ideas this year that we hope will be a big success. Be sure to follow us on Facebook to be the first to know about what we do.

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More information: www.NorthIdahoBGC.org

Local Clubs and hours

Lola & Duane Hagadone Club

925 N. 15th St. Coeur d’Alene

(208) 618-2582

After school hours - 2:30-6 p.m.

Jordan Johnson Club

200 W. Mullan Ave. Post Falls

(208) 457-9089

After school hours - 2:30-6 p.m.

Administrative offices open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon-Fri, (208) 618-2582

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