For 75 years, the Boys and Girls Club of Snohomish County (BGSC) has been an open door for young people in many communities. With 25 locations across the region, their participants are a diverse blend of Latinx, Native American, and rurally located youth.
Their mission is “to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.” It drives their day-to-day work as staff enables kids to be all that they can be. When kids start coming to any BGSC location, they are encouraged to try everything, be bold and be a good friend.
“I’ve been here 17 years and have seen kids grow into responsible adults, “ said Chief Operating Officer, Marci Volmer. “I didn’t expect working here to be as impactful as it has been in my own life… I always tell new staff to be sure their whole family is on board because it becomes a lifestyle. Eventually, everyone gets involved.”
BGSC’s commitment to being a safe space was challenged during the pandemic but quickly blossomed into full-day offerings and mental health support.
“Our staff had to change overnight from before and after school recreation programming to a virtual learning lab,” said Volmer.
Their services now include equitable access to laptops and WIFI, meals, and emotional support staff to guide youth through stress and other big emotions that are so pervasive during the pandemic. The goal is to keep students in a routine and create a somewhat “normal day.” Staff are trained to identify the challenges kids are experiencing, communicate with mental health support staff, and then cultivate relationships to help youth navigate their feelings.
The Washington Youth Development Nonprofit Relief Fund made it possible for this vital new curriculum to continue. The organization is especially invested in technology and building capacity to have more students online. BGSC is a critical support for families who are working and need a safe space, be it online or in person, for their children to access out-of-school time enrichment and support.
“Our message in these uncertain times is that we’ve been here and we will stay here. No doors closing here,” said Volmer.