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Boys and Girls Club idea gets a big boost

KINGSTON — For more than a year, it’s only been an idea.

But now, a Boys & Girls Club in North Kitsap is one step closer to opening its doors.

After months of meetings and planning, the group trying to bring an activity-based club for kids into the north end received a boost when it learned of a potential partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Snohomish County.

While the details are still being crafted among the several business, government and school agencies involved with the project, there is great potential for the Snohomish program to partner with North Kitsap, said Youth Services Director for the Educational Service District Cindy Nielsen.

The Snohomish organization, which has 10 full-fledged clubs and 18 satellite clubs, might be willing to help share startup and administrative costs with Kingston, allowing the community to start the clubs more quickly than had been anticipated.

“I expect this to happen. It’s no longer a wish,” said Nielsen.

Before learning of the Snohomish option, Nielsen and other community members had been working with joining the North Mason Boys and Girls Club.

While that group was accommodating, it required the community to have $250,000 in the bank to start up the club — that’s how the nation-wide Boys and Girls Club guarantees that its organizations will be able to continue.

Nielsen said the group still plans to raise enough funds to ensure the club’s survival, but said that partnership with Snohomish will make the process easier.

“When we were joining with North Mason, they didn’t have the funds to help,” she said.

The ESD has joined with several other agencies in Kingston, including the Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis and Kingston Junior High, in order to help make the club a reality.

Dave Muller, a member of the Kiwanis and the Kingston Chamber of Commerce, has been involved with the project and met with the Snohomish Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Bill Tsoukalas.

Muller gave a presentation to a group that included North Kitsap School District Supt. Gene Medina and Kingston Junior High Interim Principal Ed Serra.

“It’s one of those things, when it needs to be done you stand up and do it,” said Muller.

The group now has to determine how much money will need to be raised, and how; where the club will be located; and how much support the community can be expected to give.

It will then submit a proposal to the Snohomish Boys & Girls Club organization.

Group members admit that they still have much to do. But they’re encouraged by what they’ve seen so far.

In fact, they’re starting to think bigger.

Nielsen, who oversaw the Kingston After Hours program that provided after-school activities at Kingston Junior High, said the events provided by a club could eventually expand out of Kingston.

“It would be a North Kitsap Boys & Girls Club,” she said. “Maybe there could be a branch in Poulsbo. We could expand from there. I think it’s a lovely thought.”

The Boys & Girls Club would provide students with after-school activities ranging from sports to drama and drug-abuse counseling to tutoring.

There are 3,103 clubs nation-wide, including clubs in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and several domestic and international military bases.

The Boys & Girls Club of America staff estimates that the club has served 3.3 million boys and girls.

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