At our Inukai Family Club, the theme of our programming has not only been fun, but educational too. During our Nature Exploration Camp for incoming 4th through 6th graders, our Club members got to experience firsthand what it’s like to be a marine biologist.
Each member was paired with one or two other members, and they were able to dissect a real perch specimen. Each perch came with its own disposable tray and tools (all age appropriate), so our members had everything needed to get the most out of their experience. Members were instructed on the anatomy of the perch, and were able to locate and observe the various parts and organs of the fish. Some of our perch even had eggs!
Our members loved every minute of this activity! They not only got to learn a lot about the perch, but also how cool science can really be.
For privacy purposes, Steven's last name has been omitted.
Steven, a senior at Hillsboro High School, was named “Youth of the Year” on March 6th, 2014, by Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland.
He’s been attending the Inukai Family Boys & Girls Club in Hillsboro for 10 years, and Steven, 17, said being a part of the Club has helped him so much during his childhood and youth that he realized he wanted to give something back.
“It’s kept me on track,” Steven said of the guidance and support he’s received.
One of five Portland area youths competing for Youth of the Year honors, Steven won a $1,000 scholarship and will represent the Portland metropolitan area in statewide competition April 11, 2014.
If he’s chosen to be the statewide youth of the year, he’ll go on to represent Oregon in the regional contest and then, possibly, the national competition.
Steven credits the Inukai Family Club for giving him the support he needed during a particularly difficult time in his life.
“Heading into my teenage years, my life was struck with disaster. The death of my father had struck me hard and it struck me fast,” he shares. “I had made many attempts at suicide while mourning the tragic realization of my father’s passing. For a while I kept to myself ... finally, after weeks of blocking myself out, I opened up ... After explaining my hardships to staff and friends, I felt a great weight lifted off my shoulders.”
Steven now volunteers his time at the Club, in between classes at and a part-time job he has taken on to help support his family. He is the oldest child in the family, and three of Steven's four brothers also attend the Boys & Girls Club.
“It’s like a family affair,” said Club director Nick Eaton, who describes Steven as “dynamic.”
Eaton said Steven has been involved with the Club’s leadership training since middle school, when he was a member of the Torch Club, and now as a Leader-in-Training. Leadership Club members learn life skills and values such as citizenship and community service.
“Steven doesn’t have the easiest smile, doesn’t say much, but truly shines as a leader,” Eaton said. “He exhibits his leadership through actions rather than words; doesn’t give in to the many vices that plague so many of today’s teens; remains loyal to his family as the man of the house; is driven, responsible, caring and goofy.”
After high school, Steven hopes to attend Portland Community College and then transfer to Portland State University.
Looking back, Steven recalls his first, tenuous visit to the Club as a 7-year-old.
“Stepping off the school bus, I speculated why my parents would ever force me to come to this place,” he wrote in an essay. “A small building surrounded by broken streets, the loud hum of moving trains, and the everlasting presence of police sirens around the city.”
However, Steven finally did step in the door.
“I saw that it was full with excited faces, and laughing children. I was received by name,” he wrote.
Now, 10 years later, he’s one of those who warmly greets the youngsters who step through the door for the first time.
“I love this place,” Steven said. “It’s a great place.”
Towards the end of November, each of our Clubs hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for our Club families. A full dinner was served, complete with turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and dessert.
These Family Nights allowed our Club families to share a meal together. For one of our Club parents, this was more meaningful than we anticipated. Pam (name changed) explained, "This year has been really tough for our family...so tough that we won't be able to afford our own Thanksgiving dinner. THIS was our Thanksgiving dinner, together, thanks to the Club. Thank you for making it so special for me and my family."
Festivities also included games, crafts, musical performances, and a raffle.
As we move quickly into the winter holidays, our Clubs are gearing up again for another round of Family Nights, knowing how important these are to our families and our communities.
Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do for our Club members and their families. Your support is greatly appreciated and we wish you the best for a joyous holiday season and a happy & healthy 2014.
Summer provided dozens of camp opportunities for our Club members. From Adventure Camp to Cooking Camp, there was something for everyone! A new camp this summer, Bonjour Camp, proved to be a popular one. Campers learned some French, studied the country's fashion (including creating their own garments!), immersed themselves in the culture and, perhaps the tastiest day of all, tasted a variety of cheeses!
Thanks to generous supporter Mark Edwards of DPI Specialty Foods, campers were treated to a full morning of cheese tasting, complete with smelling, identifying textures, and note taking. Campers tasted 12 different types of cheese and enjoyed pairing them with crackers, bread sticks, honey, and almonds.
Thank you to Mark Edwards and all of our donors for making these special days a reality for our Club members!
Recently launched at our Inukai Club is a new program, Walk to Washington, DC. Each day, Club members are able to check-out pedometers to count their steps. The distance they go is tracked on a map, and they are walking all the way to our nation’s capital. The popularity of this program has been amazing, with over 165 members participating! Throughout the day,Club members can constantly be seen checking their pedometers to see how many steps they have taken. Club members are overheard, sharing with others, “Look at how far I’ve gone!” At Club meeting, participating members are given bracelets to mark their step accomplishments. With pride, each child walks up to accept their bracelet and a round of applause is cheering them on. While this program was deisgned to increase physical activity, it has done that and so much more. It has given our members a sense of accomplishment, along with some lessons of math and geography mixed in...shhh!
Thank you to all of our donors who make programs like "Walk to Washington, DC" possible!
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Vice President of Development