Mount Vernon Library Hosts Weekly Story Time at the Mount Vernon Club

The Boys & Girls Club of Mount Vernon is usually full of color, sound, and activity everywhere you look. But every Thursday, there is a pocket of near silence among the organized chaos of the Club as members have the option to walk into a quiet room, stocked with coloring sheets and colored pencils. There, members can take a quick break in a relaxing, calm, quiet environment as a part of “Story Time with Callie”.

Callie Shoemaker, Mount Vernon library assistant, has continued this long-running tradition at the Mount Vernon Club. “When I took over the position, this was one of the projects I decided I’d keep going” said Callie. Every week, for just over two years now, a library assistant has come to the Club to read to members as the members get to relax, color, and listen to the stories.

Story Time is a part of a larger program at the Mount Vernon Club called Project Learn. Every week there are 

different themes for the days, such as Limerick day or National Walnut Day. Callie takes these themes and brings in a selection of books based on them.

“I really like bringing in some books related to the theme, new arrivals in the library, and some personal favorites to read to the kids” said Callie. The members get to choose which books they want Callie to read.

Sedro Woolley Teens Invite Guest Speakers for Career Launch

As kids start to get into middle school and high school, they are asked more and more frequently to start making important decisions about what they want to do with their lives. Career Launch is a program that gives members new tools to help make these important decisions.

Every week, Teen Centers in our Clubs invite guest speakers to share their experiences with the members. Our teens have heard from a variety of people in different professions, and different stages of their professional careers.

This week the Sedro Woolley teens welcomed Holly Shannon as guest speaker. Holly is a lawyer and has been a member of the Board of Directors for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County for the past 3 years. She currently serves as Board President.

As part of our Career Launch programming, Holly spoke about receiving a Bachelor’s degree in History from Western Washington University and her Juris Doctorate from Michigan State University. The members heard about how every day is different and how she works with around 300 clients! Fortunately, not all 300 of them need something every day.

Originally, Holly wanted to be a teacher but after looking into the law field and its history, she decided she’d rather be a lawyer. This sentiment, of discovering a new interest and pursuing it as a career, has been a common one with guest speakers. It’s a valuable lesson for our members to hear as we encourage them to make plans for their Great Futures!

Thanks for stopping by Holly! The teens really enjoyed having you visit and hearing about an exciting profession!

The Anacortes Club and The First Tee Link Up

Youth Gain an Introduction to Golf Basics

Last week the Anacortes Boys & Girls Club and The First Tee linked up to provide a unique experience for Club members. The snow was falling, but that did not stop local golf pro Tom Perry and First Tee Coordinator Kjell Carlsen from teaching 15 eager Club members basic golf skills in the Anacortes Club’s gym.

The First Tee is an internationally recognized youth program that introduces the game of golf and its inherent values to young people. The learning program focuses on nine core values – honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment. Anacortes’ local First Tee chapter is sponsored by Anacortes Sunrisers Kiwanis Club in partnership with Swinomish Golf Links, two organizations that also support the Boys & Girls Clubs. The program hopes to provide opportunities for fun, self-confidence, and sportsmanship skills for the kids who participate in their program. They offer Golf Clinics for ages 7-18, as well as a tournament in August. 

For most Club members, this was their first introduction to the game. Using oversized golf clubs, tennis balls, and velcro targets, members were able to safely achieve success. They worked on putting and chipping and tried to stay focused on “keeping their Y” in their golf swing with mentorship provided by Tom & Kjell.  

The First Tee Link Program and Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County share values that align for a great partnership, including the idea that any kid who wants to be part of the program will have an opportunity to do so. Moving forward, The First Tee hopes to work with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County to reach a diverse group of kids who have an interest in the sport of golf.

Those interested in learning more about The First Tee Link Program can visit www.anacortestft.com

Pop-up Library brings books to the Anacortes Club

Throughout the year, Club Members at the Anacortes Boys and Girls Club had the opportunity to spend an hour reading every day, thanks to a local partnership with the Anacortes Public Library, who were able to provide some special reading opportunities for youth through their Pop-up Library Program. The program began last summer, and was so popular that they decided to continue into the school year.

Children’s Librarian Leslie Wilson, visits the Anacortes Boys & Girls Club on a regular basis to host the Pop-Up Library. The system uses a new web-based library catalog that makes it possible to take library services out into the community.

Wilson said that they started doing Pop-up Libraries in May at a STEM event at the Middle School. And that it is surprisingly easy. “All we need is internet access. The Pop-up Library enables us to check out books, place holds, provide member info, issue new library cards, and more,” she said. Wilson explained that thru their weekly visits to the Club during the summer, they were able to streamline the process.  “The program has really improved. It helped us figure out what worked and what didn’t, really fine tune the program.”

The Pop-up library was also very popular with the kids. “What I liked about the pop-up library was that we got to check out books without going to the real library. I also liked hearing the different stories Leslie read to us,” said Club Member Alaea Cerrillo. The Boys and Girls Club has a library of books that the kids can choose from, but the Pop-up Library expanded their choices.

“I could tell how excited the kids were, because of how patiently they waited to check out their books. We run choice-based programs at the Club, so there are activities going on simultaneously. Lots of kids were choosing to look at the library books that were brought in and check out new ones for next time.” said the Club’s Marketing Director, Tammy Findlay.

Wilson explained, “The Club members really enjoyed being able to request books. It was great seeing how excited kids were getting them. It also helped us really tailor the program to meet the kid’s interest.” Some of the most popular requests included Guinness Book of World Records, Pete the Cat, and graphic novels.

Mount Vernon Club receives new HVAC units

This past summer, in the middle of a heat wave, the Mount Vernon Boys & Girls Club’s aging A/C and Heating units decided to call it quits. The financial impact facing the non-profit organization serving hundreds of kids was daunting. With Summer in full swing, and with kids in programming from 7am-6pm daily, CPI Plumbing & Heating came to the rescue. CPI began work immediately to look into repairing the units, donating their time and labor.

After many attempts and hours of work it was determined that the units would have to be replaced. CPI HVAC Manager Steve Murray immediately began working on finding a solution, working with local companies to make the replacement possible. They reached out to Gensco Inc. requesting that they donate the HVAC system, and Gensco agreed to donate two new units! The installation also required a crane, and Barnhardt Cranes was able to provide the crane free of charge. On October 5th, all three came together to complete the installation. When the project was complete, CPI’s leadership and advocacy resulted in $14,514.64 of labor and equipment donated to the Boys & Girls Club.

“Our experience with CPI has been wonderful. They showed a willingness to go above and beyond what was expected to help out the Club and the kids.” said Club Director, Angela Freeberg. “We survived the heat of the summer, and are also extremely grateful to them for our nice warm Club as the days get colder!”

Sedro Woolley Club Teen Aspires to Practice Law

Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County’s 2017 Youth of the Year Paula Banda has had many opportunities to share her Club story publicly, as part of her journey within the Youth of the Year Program. Part of her story includes her goals for the future—to attend Harvard and practice Immigration Law. Several local lawyers heard her speech and reached out to help with career advice. Recently, Paula and a small group of teens from the Sedro-Woolly Boys & Girls Club had a chance to meet these lawyers to learn about their practice.

Laura Riquelme, who works as public defender for Skagit County, and has recently served as a judge as well, gave Paula and a few of her friends a tour of the Skagit County courthouse. She gave the Club members an overview of the work she does, how it affects the community, and how she decided to pursue a career in law. She also shared some great insights on the difference between being a judge and being a lawyer.

Joseph Bowen was born and raised in Skagit Valley. After law school he came back to the area and eventually opened up his own law practice. He took the time to sit down with the Woolley teens and talk about motivation and determination. He detailed the journey he took from Skagit County to Harvard to law school at UW back to Skagit County and encouraged the Boys & Girls Clubs members to set their goals high.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County would like to thank everyone involved for taking the time to share their career knowledge with the Club members.

Volunteer Inspires Youth through Photography

Richard Raymond started volunteering with Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County in early October this year. With the expansion of the Clubs into the Mount Baker & LaVenture middle schools, volunteer help is greatly appreciated and adds to the richness of the Club experience. Richard immediately began teaching photography at the Mount Baker Club. Fortunately, the Clubs had already purchased camera equipment through a grant from BestBuy. Because camera’s are Nikon DSLRs, it gives the members quite a range of control over their photos. Club members start out by learning the very basic workings of the cameras, then work on composition and choosing subject matter.

Mentored by well-known photographer, Lee Mann, Richard loves to share about his own experience of practicing photography out in nature. He reminisced about a day on the middle fork, Nooksack river, where he spotted an eagle on a low crag. He was able to sneak up fairly close, but eventually the great bird took flight. “When an eagle takes off to fly they drop at first because they are so large. The force of the wind from it’s wings took my hat off.” That was a great shot, but, he pointed out that if his wife, who was watching from afar, would have had a camera, she would have had the better photo. He then bought his wife a camera and now they enjoy the sport together.

Richard was recently awarded “Rookie Volunteer of the Year” at a Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County awards event. “I think he was so surprised by the award, but it is very well deserved,” says Tammy Findlay, the Club’s Director of Marketing & Stewardship. “I’m so impressed with how Richard leads youth. This program gives them a great sense of accomplishment. Club members are taking pride in their work, and striving to improve and learn. They are engaged and eager. Richard’s passion for photography is inspiring.”

Richard just finished up a class at the Mount Baker Club and is now teaching a new group at the LaVenture Club which will run for 8 weeks. Then he will be back at Mount Baker for an Advanced Photography session with 5 Club members from the original class. They will cover the inner workings of the camera more in-depth, and advanced settings, as well as new photography techniques.

Sedro-Woolley Cooking Club for Teens

On Wednesdays this last spring, teenage members of the Sedro-Woolley Boys & Girls Club were given the opportunity to participate in a special Cooking Club. Thanks to the efforts of volunteer Patricia Stephens, and the Helping Hands Food Bank, the Woolley Teens learned how to make a variety of unique, interesting, and often, healthy dishes. 

“I liked learning new things to make for when I’m at home, because I didn’t know how to make most of that stuff” said Brandon Deleon “It was really fun to learn new things to bake and cook.”

Some of the dishes they created included homemade pop tarts, using jelly and pie crust, and spaghetti made with squash. They were shown how to make homemade pizza and introduced to bread pudding, which most of them had never even heard of before, but now love. 

Great programs like Cooking Club are made possible because of the support of the community and awesome volunteers like Patricia. The Club is extremely grateful for their support. Cooking Club will be taking a short break over summer but the teens are looking forward to its return in the fall.