NESPELEM - The Boys and Girls Clubs of Snohomish County has confirmed the three Boys and Girls Clubs on the Colville Reservation received $165,000 in donations in late 2020.
In Inchelium Wade and Caroline Young donated through the McKissick Family Foundation $40,000 to develop a teen center at the Inchelium Boys and Girls Club, and in Keller the Peterson family donated $75,000 for a teen center and computer lab in memory of Janice Peterson at the Keller club. For all three clubs the Peterson family donated an additional $50,000 to improve the clubs’ after school education program, according to Bill Tsoukalas, Boys and Girls Club of Snohomish County Executive Director.
The donations come after extended relationships with both the Young and Peterson families, said Tsoukalas.
Previously, the Youngs donated $10,000 to the Inchelium Boys and Girls Club to upgrade playground equipment.
Also in memory of Janice Peterson, the Peterson family previously donated two different donations that added up to $40,000 to the Inchelium Club for a computer lab and to rehabilitate the Inchelium Community Center gymnasium. The family also donated $25,000 to match an additional $25,000 from another source to convert a room downstairs in Nespelem into a teen center, which is now operational.
While certain communal spaces, like the gymnasium, are shared between age groups, the new funding will be used to allow teenagers a space of their own in Keller and Inchelium, which assists with attendance, said Tsoukalas.
“By having a separate space for teens it helps with attendance with both older kids and younger kids,” said Tsoukalas. “The younger kids don’t have the older kids in the same area they are, where the older kids will monopolize the space, so that helps with their attendance and vice versa. The older kids don’t have the younger kids around them in their dedicated space so that increases their attendance.”
Caroline Young - who called Boys and Girls Club a “life-changing organization” - noted during her time on the board of a Boys and Girls Club in her hometown of Southern Pines, North Carolina she was able to see the importance of a teen center.
“We built a teen center there,” said Caroline Young, who’s husband served in the Army Rangers under former Colville Business Council member Larry Allen . “Young people had started dropping out of the club as they got older, as they got into high school for sure. Once they had their own teen center space, they came back. They loved it. They wanted to be there. I think through Boys and Girls Club they are led to where they want to go, to a better future. They have mentors, guidance and a place to do school work. Being a part of that made me realize the incredible power of what a Boys and Girls Club can do in young people’s lives.”
Throughout the tribes’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Boys and Girls Clubs have honored the tribes’ public health protocols, said Tsoukalas, who noted the clubs have continued to work to provide services to families of school age children.
“This is being prepared proactively,” said Tsoukalas. “At some point we will be back to normal, meaning we will have the normal number of kids who come and go each day. Hopefully those numbers will increase now, especially with the older kids.”
The Boys and Girls Club of Snohomish County opened a Boys and Girls Club on the Tulalip Reservation in 1997. That club was the first Boys and Girls Club to be opened on a reservation in Washington and the sixth to be opened on a reservation nationally, according to Tsoukalas.
In 2014, the Snohomish chapter entered partnership to open clubs on the Colville Reservation, with the first Colville Reservation club being opened in Inchelium in 2014 at the Inchelium Community Center. Subsequently, clubs were opened in Nespelem and then Keller, utilizing community centers in each community.
The Snohomish Boys and Girls Club system has a total of 25 different clubs across the Pacific Northwest with seven clubs on reservations, including the three Colville Reservation clubs, the club on the Tulalip Reservation and clubs on the Spokane Reservation, on the Lummi Reservation and in Warm Springs, Ore.
Pete Peterson and his wife, Janice, purchased 50 acres on the Colville Reservation’s Hellgate Game Reserve in 1968. In 2010, the Peterson’s donated 45 acres to the Colville Tribes.
The Peterson family has also started working with the different clubs on the Colville Reservation to allow for club campout and outdoor activities on their Hellgate property, according to Pete Peterson.