Auction benefits Tulalip Boys & Girls Club

TULALIP — The Tulalip Resort Hotel’s Orca Ballroom was packed with more than 400 diners and auction bidders whose contributions will help the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club keep pace with the needs of the community’s youth.“I just come to watch Mel,” laughed Dan Olson of HDR Engineering, a five-year veteran of the annual auction benefitting the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club. “He does such a great job as the host. I’m also interested in bidding on some Tulalip fine dining.”Tulalip Tribal Chair Mel Sheldon Jr., who emceed this year’s event, noted that the annual auction has been going for 13 years, as long as he’s been on the Tulalip Tribal Council. He deemed the event’s regular attendees old friends.

“It’s great that we can all come together for the kids,” Sheldon said. “Our guests come not only from Snohomish County, but also from Skagit and King counties. We even have a few from as far away as Idaho. The younger generation needs inspiration, and the Boys & Girls Clubs give them a place where they can go to socialize and play sports.”

Marysville School District Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland likewise praised the Boys & Girls Club for providing a safe environment that’s both educational and recreational.

“They’re great partners with the schools and communities,” Nyland said. “Kids can go to the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club after school and receive tutoring on computers.”

Marysville City Council member Michael Stevens attended the auction for the first time this year, but he made up for it by bidding on several items for his kids and for landscaping.

“There was a cooler basket and gift certificates for tools,” Stevens said. “I’m very impressed by the numbers of both people and items up for bid.”

Tulalip Tribal Board member Don Hatch Jr., a former Marysville School Board member who’s been involved in the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club for many years, acknowledged the difficulty of soliciting both financial donations and auction items in the midst of an ongoing recession, and credited Terry Freeman with making a crucial difference.

“Terry is irreplaceable,” Hatch said of the associate director of development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County. “Who else could go out and beg for all this stuff in this economy? He’s done a great job.”

Diane Prouty, office manager for the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club, could not recall seeing more donated auction items on display during the 13 years of annual auctions.

“There’s so many quality items here, which are very much appreciated,” said Prouty, who explained that the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club will use its funds to expand its building space. “We’ll be adding two program rooms, plus the front overhang area will be enclosed. Within just a few years, we’ve tripled the number of children we serve. The kids’ cafe alone serves 500 children a day.”

The Tulalip Boys & Girls Club is also gearing up to install an “immersion room,” which will allow children to conduct real-time video conferencing or surround themselves in video environments.

“Whether it’s classes or footage of underwater dives, they’ll feel like they’re right there,” Prouty said. “We’re only the third Boys & Girls Club in the nation to get this, and we’re the only one on a Native American reservation. All I can say to the community is thank you, thank you, thank you.”

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