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Rebooting the Boys & Girls Clubs

More than a month after the resignation of Executive Director Bob Schilling, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula is pushing forward with a familiar face.

Mary Budke, Sequim branch unit director, was appointed interim executive director for both

Sequim and Port Angeles clubs shortly after Schilling left.

"It's only interim, so that we don't drive her into the ground," Jerry Sinn, board of directors president, said.

Budke, who is retaining her unit director position, thinks she's not stretching herself too thin.

"Fortunately we have a lot of staff that are pitching in and working bigger loads," she said.

Staff and volunteers see business as usual at the clubs.

"Our hope is parents and children won't see any change," Budke said.

"It should be seamless, regardless of who steps into administration."



Nothing set in stone

Sinn says the clubs' board hasn't set a time frame for hiring a new executive director.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America national charter mandates that each division must have a full-time chief professional, so it's a matter of "when."

"We, of course, don't want it to go on forever," Sinn said.

Before the board begins its search, the members are redefining the executive director position. Then they'll decide if they want to recruit locally and/or nationally, Sinn said.

If they choose to recruit nationally, the position goes onto the Boys & Girls Clubs of America's Web site with other open positions.

Past directors relocated from Alaska, Oregon, Massachusetts and the Seattle area.

"It's normal for people to move around in the organization," Sinn said.



Positive impact

Budke, who started work for the Sequim club in 2004 as a kitchen worker, said she hopes there's been a positive impact in the clubs since she's taken charge.

She thinks her experience as unit director serves both clubs well, especially her connection with George Rodes, Port Angeles unit director.

"It's a good collaboration," Budke said.

Budke believes she can identify needs and share resources more easily because of their partnership.



Dollar on the back

The biggest elephant in the room for the Boys & Girls Clubs is fundraising.

They've experienced budget shortfalls this year and last and donations have been down for most of their biggest fundraisers.

Last month, the club posted a few positives.

Stacy Ceder, resource development director, said their annual golf tournament on May 15 at SunLand Golf & Country Club did well and they met their goal with 100 golfers.

Members of the club's high school Torch Club stepped up fundraising with "Date Nights," where parents can drop off younger children for evening activities at the club and enjoy some time out for themselves. They used donations for club memberships.



Campaign for Kids

Each summer is the Campaign for Kids, which this year volunteer organizer Jodi Olson said has a goal of $70,000 by Aug. 31. As of June 21, it has raised $42,019.

"It's a little bit ahead of previous years," Olson said.

"But it's not where we'd obviously like it to be."

She said to create awareness, they've been a part of news stories, led spring flings, created ads and public service announcements, letter-writing campaigns and more.

What excites Olson most is starting the first Parent-to-Parent Program, where parents keep others up to date on finances and the clubs' offerings.

"Some know, but a vast majority don't know about programs," Olson said.

"When you look at this place, parents don't realize it's a place that has a tough time raising money."



Essentials for support

Officials said the amount parents spend on what the clubs offer is disproportionate with other children's programs.

"Parents pay $30 a year, and that really comes out to one activity fee," Olson said.

"For example, for two kids to take ballet classes for one month, it's $112."

Sinn said it's important for families to support the club in whatever ways they can.

"Not just so much the

money aspect but in other ways, like helping at the auction or in the club in

general," Sinn said.

Olson emphasized any amount is appreciated.

"In this economy, every dollar counts," Olson said.



Sunnier days

The club now offers summer programs for children from kindergarten-18 years old, with field trips and activities. Sign-ups are available at the Sequim club, 400 W. Fir St.

To donate or participate in the Campaign for Kids, call 683-8095.

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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