December can be a month of both joy and sadness for our youth, so we strive to make it the best possible for them to help fulfill both needs and wants. Payless ShoeSource provided us with 150 $20 gift cards so our youth could go shopping for brand new shoes. And thanks to Fred Meyer and Portland Trail Blazer, Wesley Mathews, coats were collected during the month of December in the 5th annual coat drive benefitting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland. Hundreds of coats were collected and given to our members. We had the honor of assisting with the Parkrose School District Food & Gift Drive. Our Parkrose Club staff joined school staff and community volunteers to assist in the collection and distribution of 8,000 lbs of food and 500 gifts to 160 Parkrose families. The month was completed with all Clubs hosting a Holiday Celebration event. With the help of many community partners and Giving Trees, all of our kids were able to receive gifts of toys and clothing. Many of them were able to meet Santa Clause for the first time as well!
On December 16, the Jack Will and Rob Club unveiled a state-of-the-art “Tween Tech Center,” to help spark kids’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and prepare young people for 21st century success. Funded by Samsung, the Tween Tech Center will be a modernized technology classroom for Club members with the latest mobile devices for learning, including a custom STEM curriculum and eBooks on Samsung tablets adn laptops. Developed by education leader Scholastic, the custom STEM curriculum, “Building Blocks,” will assist kids’ education and literacy goals and encourage Club tweens to work together and invent creative, engineering-based solutions for community needs.
90 youth, families, and community members including our Portland Mayor, Charlie Hales and his wife, Nancy, attended a Peace Rally organized by Regence Club teens as part of the New Columbia's Youth Empowerment Solutions group, part of the STRYVE initiative, which stands for Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere.
And finally, we were honored to be voted as Oregon's 6th Most Admired Non-Profit company, which is selected by Oregon CEO's.
We are always looking for fun ways to not only raise money, but to create fun events for Club members and families to attend. Our newest fun family event, Pumpkins & Pins, took place on October 26 at Grand Central Bowling. Local artists were invited to carve giant pumpkins which were sold to local businesses. These were on display at the event and families were invited to come see the pumpkins, enjoy a day of bowling, play arcade games, paint bowling pins or bid on items in our silent auction. It was a great event and fun was had by all!
One of the Boys & Girls Clubs' priority outcomes for our members is living a healthy lifestyle, including eating a healthy diet, making healthy lifestyle choices and committing to a life of fitness. November was Healthy Lifestyles Months at our Clubs. Staff and kids took the Chris Dudley Foundation Live Active, Dream Big pledge to get moving for just 30 minutes a day during the 30 days of November. Everyday, staff members lead Club members through a physical activity. To show their support, the administrative staff held a competition among all staff to get moving during the month as well.
A large percentage of our Club members are low income and on free & reduced lunch plans. Many of our Clubs serve hot meals to its members and all Clubs serve healthy snacks daily. Thanks to a generous gift of $77,500 from the Ford Motor Company and their Ford Focus on Hunger Campaign, 64 Boys & Girls Clubs across the Pacific Northwest will be able provide holiday meals to kids & their families. As part of this, all of our Clubs served a Thanksgiving feast for its members and families.
Intentional programming focusing on Academic Success, Healthy Lifestyles, and Good Character & Citizenship is the core of our afterschool programs.
Club members at our Regence Club have been digging into various chemistry projects recently. Activities and projects have included making silly putty, making healthy AND tasty smoothies, constructing lava lamps, creating bracelets out of recycled plastic, watching how the colors in M&Ms separate in liquid, and taking a visit to Whitaker Ponds Nature Park to explore the Columbia Slough.
Thank you to all of our donors who make these enriching activities possible for our Club members! We appreciate your support and commitment to enabling all youth to reach their full potential.
Great Futures Start Here.
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.”
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Vice President of Development