Celebrating the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club | SLIDESHOW

TULALIP — As the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club celebrated the impending 20th anniversary of the Boys & Girls Clubs partnering with all Native American tribes, National Boys & Girls Clubs President and CEO James Clark visited the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club on Tuesday, Feb. 21, to report that the club will become a living example for new Boys & Girls Clubs on tribal lands across the state.

The Tulalip Boys & Girls Club is currently the only Native American club in Washington state. It’s one of 200 Native American clubs nationwide, and in 1997, the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club became the sixth club in the country to open on a reservation. Clark’s Feb. 21 visit to the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club marked his first official visit to a Native American club.

“We serve 4 million kids at 4,000 locations,” Clark said, after playing some pool with a few Tulalip youngsters and checking out the arts and crafts of some others. “This Boys & Girls Club is a model for our clubs throughout Washington.”

Native American Outreach Coordinator Michael Tulee is part of the team that will work with the state’s 29 Native American tribes to add two new clubs on their reservations by 2013.

“There’s a great deal of need,” Tulee said. “We have to get those tribes the information they need to make informed decisions. It’s a delicate dance. There’s no one tribe of which it’s more true, but there are high levels of unemployment, alcohol and drug use, and high school dropouts on many reservations. These tribes are already aware of this. The Boys & Girls Clubs are designed to address those needs, and to lessen and counteract negative impacts on children.”

Tulee noted that Boys & Girls Clubs emphasize not only academics and athletics, but also cultural and social sensitivity and understanding. Although these clubs would be located on reservations, Tulee emphasized that they would serve children regardless of their backgrounds, including non-Native Americans.

“We know the Boys & Girls Clubs work,” Tulee said. “When people look at this club, they see positive energy and highly professional people who are there for these kids.”

Clark agreed that the staff of the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club has created a nurturing, caring environment for children, as they’ve provided a place for youth to eat, study and play.

“It’s not the physical space, but what goes on in it that matters,” Clark said. “This staff works day in and day out to inspire these kids. We’re privileged to have this club here in Tulalip.”

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, was more blunt in his praise for the club, as he credited it with keeping many young people off the streets, with resources ranging from a gym and a cafeteria to computer labs.

“It’s been medicine for this community,” Hatch said. “I’m willing to go to the other tribes to sell them on the Boys & Girls Clubs. We worked on this from the ground up, and we hit bumps in the road, but we made it through. I can’t say enough about how much the Boys & Girls Clubs take care of the children.”


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