Boys & Girls Club ‘bank’ is finally open

KINGSTON — After two years of meetings, the idea of a Boys and Girls Club in North Kitsap is taking another step toward becoming a reality.

KINGSTON — After two years of meetings, the idea of a Boys and Girls Club in North Kitsap is taking another step toward becoming a reality.

The committee organizing the North Kitsap Branch of the Snohomish County Boys and Girls Club will receive its first donation for the kids’ group this week — a $500 check from Boeing.

But those pushing for the formation here aren’t sure who put the bug in Boeing’s ear about the latest efforts in North Kitsap.

Committee member Cindy Nielson got a call from Snohomish United Way, which said that Boeing wanted to donate money to the North End’s attempt to start up the Boys & Girls Club.

They don’t know who did it, “but we’re going to find out,” said a smiling Rose Norberg, a member of the organizing group.

Talk of a Boys & Girls Club for this area has been a hot topic within the Kingston Kiwanis the past several decades, but it’s just within the last few years the idea was kicked into gear.

Committee members said they feel that the Kingston youth would benefit from the club after seeing the success of a 21st Century Foundation grant-supported after-school program at Kingston Junior High that ended in 2002. When the grant ran out, interested faculty and parents were scrambling to find a way to start another program for area youth. Discussions about a North Kitsap Boys & Girls Club began to pick up.

“Over the course of three years, 1,000 students were served,” Nielson said about after-school program. “That was 45-75 kids a day.”

While Martha & Mary currently offers day care services at local elementary schools and high school aged students are involved with the North Kitsap Teen Club, Nielson said students in fifth through eighth grades need a place to hang out.

“The Kingston community needs something for the kids in the community,” Nielson said.

The Kiwanis built a larger-than-life thermometer that is stationed underneath the Kingston Community Center sign on State Route 104 to keep residents posted on fund-raising efforts. But as the group gets underway, it won’t have to go it alone.

North Kitsap’s organization is affiliated with the Snohomish County Boys & Girls Club as a branch for now and will receive support while getting started and organized. While the committee had been originally affiliated with the North Mason Boys & Girls Club, “it logistically made more sense to go to Edmonds,” Nielson said. At least $50,000 is necessary to start the club this fall and pay for a full-time coordinator, an assistant coordinator and people to run the after-school programs.

“Part of that is the stability that someone will be there,” Nielson said.

The cost to be a member is $20 per child per year and which allows participants access to programs. Scholarships will also be available for those who have trouble meeting the fee requirement, such as large families with several kids who want to be involved.

“Twenty dollars — What a deal! What a deal!” Norberg said.

The full-time coordinator and the programs will be based out of Kingston Junior High, which has been chosen as the headquarters for the North Kitsap branch.

The group looked at other facilities, such as the old North Kitsap Fire & Rescue fire station, Kola Kole Park building and the Kingston Community Center, but the school made the most sense, Kiwanis member Dave Wetter said.

“It was better, cheaper and faster,” she added. “When we had the initial meeting, it was better to start at the school — the synergy is there.”

While it will be based in the Little City by the Sea, Little Norway won’t be left in the dust in terms of participating.

“Poulsbo has been a part of the discussion and they hope to leap frog off us,” Nielson said. “Kingston Junior High originally had the after-school program.”

The next steps for supporters is to establish programs for the kids, including arts, drama, technology, homework help, and helping them with leadership skills and planning for the future.

The next committee meeting is 7 p.m. July 2 at the Kingston Community Center.