Boys & Girls Club reports rise in teen attendance

If you fund it, they will come, just ask the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula. The city of Sequim allocated $100,000 toward the organization’s teen programming in its 2008 budget and it seems to have paid off. At the April 14 meeting of the Sequim City Council, Boys & Girls Clubs executive director Bob Schilling reported a 20-percent increase in attendance and a 7-percent to 8-percent increase for March.

“The teens aren’t just coming in, they’re bringing others with them,” Schilling said.

In late 2007, as the city council reviewed the proposed budget for 2008, it was questionable whether the $100,000 would be included. The funding allocation was in its second year and according to city manager Bill Elliott, the council had to look at whether the city could afford it or not.

“It’s basically up for discussion every year,” Elliott said.

In 2007, the funding was provided through the city’s non-departmental general fund and in 2008 it was included in the police department’s budget as a contracted crime-prevention program.

The teen program attempts to keep teens from criminal activities not only by keeping them occupied after school but by getting them involved with the community and offering them direction as well.

Later this year, for example, the teens will be working alongside AmeriCorps volunteers, taking a tour of the University of Washington and sitting down with a local businessman who will work with them to put together resumes for summer employment.

“This program is going to grow,” Schilling said. “We’re really looking at this as a foundation program.”

Schilling added that the program eventually would require more funding and space. The organization has hired a part-time grant writer to assist in finding additional funds.

Former Councilman Don Hall had been serving as liaison between the city council and the Boys & Girls Clubs board of directors but said the position was too difficult for someone not serving on the city council. He said he had resigned from the liaison position and recommended that Councilman Walt Schubert be appointed to take his place.

Schubert, a former member of the Boys & Girls Club board of directors, said he would accept the liaison position. “I’m happy to do it if the council says it’s all right,” Schubert said.

After his appointment to the position, he added that he would bring the city council monthly updates. In return, he asked that the council members provide him with feedback and input to bring to the clubs’ board of directors.

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