The Anacortes Boys & Girls Club hosted its annual Family Arts Night this past January, celebrating the Club member’s love of art and their creativity in making projects. Families were treated to a fun evening full of art activities, an art gallery featuring Club member artwork, and the announcement of winners of the Anacortes Art Contest.
“This is always one of our favorite Family Nights,” said Club Director Taylor Bannister. “We cover the gym in artwork so the event feels like an actual art gallery. Our Club members are such amazing artists, so we love being able to display their artwork for their friends, family, and the community.”
“My art was in it,” said six-year old Taryn Maxwell. “My art was number 6! I had fun because I was with my momma.”
“I liked seeing everyone’s artwork and the food was yummy” said Austin Duchene.
Lined with artwork by its youth, the Club also took the opportunity to announce the winners of the annual Anacortes Art Contest. The contest is part of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Fine Arts Exhibit program in which Clubs throughout the country compete. The contest encourages youth to express themselves creatively while helping to develop their artistic talents. Rita James from the Anacortes Arts Festival was gracious enough to volunteer her time as a judge for the event, critiquing artwork based on their age, skill, and artistic sensibility expressed in the artwork.
Jordan Lundsten who won first place for her age group, said “It made me really happy. I’ve never won anything for my art before.”
Artwork from the contest winners is then submitted to the Boys & Girls Club regional competition in Santa Cruz, California, with the chance to move on from there to the National Competition.
“The whole contest was really fun because you could see a lot of different personalities in everyone’s art,” said Club member Gabby Olson.”I’m excited [for my artwork to be going to regionals] because I feel really proud of my art and it’s fun to show it off.”
The night finished with Club members and their families getting to make some artwork of their own. The Club helped to facilitate shaving cream painting and collage hands projects.
“These family nights are always so much fun because we get to share the fun with our families,” said Bannister. “They get the chance to make projects with their own kids. It’s great for us to show what the Club is about.”
The following are the list of winners from the Anacortes Art Contest:
6-9 Year Olds
1. Jordan Lundsten – “Figure with Sun & Waves”
2. Gabi Serrano – “The Color Explosion”
3. Jordan Fratianni – “Ummmm”
10-12 Year Olds
1. Soleil Rouleau – “Splat”
2. Ella Cervantes – “Dots”
3. Gabby Olson – “Sports
Richard Raymond started volunteering with Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County in early October this year. With the expansion of the Clubs into the Mount Baker & LaVenture middle schools, volunteer help is greatly appreciated and adds to the richness of the Club experience. Richard immediately began teaching photography at the Mount Baker Club. Fortunately, the Clubs had already purchased camera equipment through a grant from Best Buy. Because camera’s are Nikon DSLRs, it gives the members quite a range of control over their photos. Club members start out by learning the very basic workings of the cameras, then work on composition and choosing subject matter.
Mentored by well-known photographer, Lee Mann, Richard loves to share about his own experience of practicing photography out in nature. He reminisced about a day on the middle fork, Nooksack river, where he spotted an eagle on a low crag. He was able to sneak up fairly close, but eventually the great bird took flight. “When an eagle takes off to fly they drop at first because they are so large. The force of the wind from it’s wings took my hat off.” That was a great shot, but, he pointed out that if his wife, who was watching from afar, would have had a camera, she would have had the better photo. He then bought his wife a camera and now they enjoy the sport together.
Richard was recently awarded “Rookie Volunteer of the Year” at a Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County awards event. “I think he was so surprised by the award, but it is very well deserved,” says Tammy Findlay, the Club’s Director of Marketing & Stewardship. “I’m so impressed with how Richard leads youth. This program gives them a great sense of accomplishment. Club members are taking pride in their work, and striving to improve and learn. They are engaged and eager. Richard’s passion for photography is inspiring.”
Richard just finished up a class at the Mount Baker Club and is now teaching a new group at the LaVenture Club which will run for 8 weeks. Then he will be back at Mount Baker for an Advanced Photography session with 5 Club members from the original class. They will cover the inner workings of the camera more in-depth, and advanced settings, as well as new photography techniques.
As part of its commitment to enrich the lives of children in the community, Draper Valley Farms has awarded a $7,500 grant to help Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County provide at-risk children a foundation for achieving healthy lifestyles.
Through its Franklin P. and Arthur W. Perdue Foundation, the Draper Valley grant will fund the Boys & Girls Clubs programs, with special focus on Healthy Lifestyles. The Healthy Lifestyles initiative — one of three Priority Outcomes at the Club — engages youth in constructive learning activities that stress the importance of healthy eating, maintaining a balanced diet, practicing self-control when making food choices and decisions, and the importance of pursuing and maintaining habits that are constructive. The other Priority Outcomes programs focus on academic success and good character and citizenship.
“As we are serving at capacity (averaging more than 100 children per day), we see an incredible demand in Mount Vernon for positive, structured programming after-school and during the summer, and we deliver the best programs, with incredible results,” said Angela Freeberg, area director in Mount Vernon. “Partnering with Draper Valley, and our other community supporters, we are able to bring that impact to the kids who need us.”
“For many years, the Boys and Girls Club of Skagit County has been a strong educational and community partner in Mount Vernon and throughout the county,” said Mark Knight, Draper Valley Farms’ director of operations. “We are committed to making a difference in the community through partnerships like this, and proud to continue our support so that area children, including those of some of our own associates, learn the value of a healthy lifestyle.”
As Boys & Girls Clubs CEO Ron McHenry explains, “With the support of Draper Valley Farms, there is a great opportunity to continue teaching our youth about what goes into their food, what is involved in local farming, and what impact a great local business is able to have on the community. Going beyond the short chats about eating a balanced diet, this type of support from Draper Valley enables us to talk forcefully about why our priority outcomes programs matter in the lives of our youth, and in our community.
Healthy Lifestyles ultimately deals with choices and commitments, and what those choices can help the program accomplish. “When we ask our kids what it means to commit to health, they come to understand that the question is much more than just a discussion of food. As we center each of our Club activities to be fun and engaging, but also formative, in terms of their character, skills, and appreciation of the world around them, we establish the focus on how all three outcomes are united, and can lead to incredible results.”
Operating after-school each day, all six Clubs located in Anacortes, La Conner, Mount Vernon, and Sedro Woolley, are seeing incredible numbers since the start of the school year, according to McHenry.
“The support from Draper Valley Farms is a great example of how the partnership between local businesses and the Clubs serve the youth, create the opportunity for collaboration, and enable much greater discussion about the different jobs, skills, and demands there are throughout the community.”
About the Boys and Girls Clubs of Skagit County
At the Boys and Girls Clubs of Skagit County, our mission is to enable all young people, especially those who need us the most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens. Our core belief is that each of our four clubs provides our members a safe place to learn and grow, ongoing relationships with caring, adult professionals, life-enhancing programs, character development experiences, and hope and opportunity. The Clubs serve more than 1,600 youth at facilities in Anacortes, La Conner, Mount Vernon and Sedro-Woolley. To learn more about the Boys and Girls Clubs, visit www.skagitclubs.org.
About Draper Valley Farms
Draper Valley Farms has been a Northwest tradition since 1935, and today we remain singularly focused on providing carefully raised, fresh, local chicken to the Northwest. Our brands include DRAPER VALLEY FARMS® organic chicken, RANGER® free-range chicken and DRAPER VALLEY FARMS® no-antibiotics-ever chicken. With farms in Washington and Oregon, a feed mill in Washington and our processing plant in Mount Vernon, Washington, our chicken is raised, locally processed and locally available. To learn more, visit drapervalleyfarms.com.
Both the Sedro-Woolley and Mount Vernon Boys & Girls Clubs lucked out with perfect weather for two consecutive weeks in September for an outdoor Farmer’s Share orchestrated by Helping Hands Food Bank, where Club youth and their families were able to stock up on free fresh vegetables and fruits.
To celebrate Hunger Action Month, Helping Hands Food Bank gathered fresh produce from local farms & grocery stores, such as Viva Farms, Hayton Farms, Ralphs Green house, and more. A bounty of colorful boxes filled with potatoes, carrots, squash, apples, plums, peaches, and broccoli, just to name a few, were arrayed out for kids to select from.
Two WSU Extension staff were on hand representing the Farmers Market Flash program, to talk about nutrition and farmers markets with the kids while making it fun, with prizes, temporary tattoos, and stickers. WSU Extension’s brand new program, Farmer’s Market Flash, is focused on spreading the good news about the Double Up Bucks Program, where SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) dollars are stretched at farmers markets so that families can buy more fruits and vegetables, at no cost extra cost to them. By simply swiping their EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) card at the information booth, farmers markets will give an additional $2 in Douple Up Bucks for every $2 spent in EBT, to purchase fresh and healthy food. “We believe good, healthy fresh food should be available for everyone, regardless of their economic situation.” said WSU Extension’s Farmers Market Flash Coordinator, Shannon Bachtel.
Club youth were certainly thrilled about the selection to choose from, and especially loved seeing the rows of raspberries at the end. Although, one kid did exclaim “broccoli!” heartily as he added it too his bag. As Club member Michael Worley was busy helping to unload and set up boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables at the Sedro-Woolley Boys and Girls Club, he said he really liked seeing everyone joining together and working toward the same goal. When asked what that shared goal was, he said “Helping get healthy food into people’s homes.”
Rebecca Schlaht, Operations Manager of the Food Bank hopes that these Farmer’s Share events can be expanded and plans to reach more Clubs, more often. “Our goal is to showcase the amazing produce that is available at local food banks,” says Schlaht. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County would like to thank Helping Hands Food Bank and the WSU Extension for putting these Farmer’s Share events together.
The teens from the Sedro-Woolley Boys & Girls Club paid a visit to the Growing Veterans farm in Mount Vernon on Wednesday, July 27th. While there, teens helped with weeding before getting a tour of the farm. They learned not only about growing produce but also how the Growing Veterans farms help veterans transition back into civilian life and engage in peer-support while building community. A great way to work with some of the unique partners throughout the Skagit Valley, the tour helped underscore some of the healthy habits & career readiness programs available at the Clubs.
“I liked helping the veterans at the farm because it made me feel good,” said Logan Thompson, age 12. The Club members spent an hour with their hands in the dirt weeding a bed of carrots, while visiting with some of the veterans who work and volunteer at the Mount Vernon farm.
After they were done weeding, the teens were taken around the farm by Joel Swenson, Peer Support Coordinator for Growing Veterans. The teens learned about all the different crops grown at the farm, which include garlic, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli. They also stopped by the farm’s bee hives. “I really liked the bees,” said Gabbie Timblin, age 13. “I didn’t know that they circled the hive so they could find their way home before they left.”
Growing Veterans is a nonprofit organization that combines veteran reintegration with sustainable agriculture—creating a holistic solution to fighting the multitude of issues the veteran population faces and simultaneously empowering them by providing opportunities for peer support, broader community engagement, and skills training. The program has seen hundreds of Veterans come through the farming projects, helping to ensure great community interaction, and demonstrating the importance of veteran support, and sustainable livelihood. And they make their produce available each week at the Farmer’s Market, in Mount Vernon.
Sedro-Woolley teens make time to visit and collaborate with many non-profits throughout Skagit County, gaining valuable knowledge and learning the importance of volunteering and giving back to their community. Exemplifying the qualities of Good Character & Citizenship, the teens work to hard to reach out, learn as much as they can, and mature.
Do you have a passion for helping? Do you love to cook? Maybe you really love sharing your interest in photography. Or you would love to help design a youth community service project. If you have a passion for youth, a passion for serving your community, and interest in helping to teach others, we need you! With the return to school, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County are calling all volunteers to come & help make our Club programs great. Open after-school Monday-Friday, from 2:45pm- 6:00pm, our Clubs serve youth ages 6-18. All programs run for 30-60 min, and fall under Academic Success, Healthy Lifestyles, and Good Character & Citizenship. We would love to include you! Contact Katelynn Sullivan at email@example.com, or 360-419-3723 x8.
On Wednesdays this last spring, teenage members of the Sedro-Woolley Boys & Girls Club were given the opportunity to participate in a special Cooking Club. Thanks to the efforts of volunteer Patricia Stephens, and the Helping Hands Food Bank, the Woolley Teens learned how to make a variety of unique, interesting, and often, healthy dishes.
“I liked learning new things to make for when I’m at home, because I didn’t know how to make most of that stuff” said Brandon Deleon “It was really fun to learn new things to bake and cook.”
Some of the dishes they created included homemade pop tarts, using jelly and pie crust, and spaghetti made with squash. They were shown how to make homemade pizza and introduced to bread pudding, which most of them had never even heard of before, but now love.
Great programs like Cooking Club are made possible because of the support of the community and awesome volunteers like Patricia. The Club is extremely grateful for their support. Cooking Club will be taking a short break over summer but the teens are looking forward to its return in the fall.
Torch Club members worked extremely hard in prepping the garden this last spring. Once the weather warmed, members could be found working tirelessly on the garden each day. Club members were able to enjoy early harvests of lettuce and peas, and some flower blooms.
Torch Club President, Riley Brooks, took the initiative and other Torch Club members were quick to respond, all playing a key role in the entirety of the gardening process. The Torch Club became quite popular, as younger members were constantly asking to be a part of the program.
Gardening was just a portion of Torch Club participation. Members also went to local businesses and helped sweep, pick up trash, and clean windows. At the Club they cleaned tables, washed dishes, served snacks, and lead activities—setting a great example for younger members.
Due to low enrollment, the La Conner Club is closed for the summer, but Program Director, Emily Chappel, is making sure their gardening efforts will be rewarded and has moved the plants to a new garden plot. She plans to bring in harvests for all Clubs to enjoy. Members will look forward to fall and new projects for Torch Club in the community.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County were able to have an added presence in Burlington this year, thanks to a partnership with the Burlington Library and a grant from Tesoro Corp, focusing on STEM programs. Through this funding, the Club’s Director of STEM Initiatives, John Garman, tours all the Club sites, now including La Venture & Mount Baker Middle Schools, as well as the Burlington Public Library once a week— introducing teens to new, fun & engaging projects.
The workshops at the library included topics such as: Engineering Bridges, Coding, Digital Photography, Dissecting the Tulip, and 3D Printing. Garman worked with Librarian, Jenny Fredriksen, to come up with and implement the topic for each week. 3D Printing was definitely a hit with the teens. One week’s workshop focused on the free online programs available, like Tinkercad and Sculptris, where teens can create 3D objects for printing or rendering for animation. The following week, the participants saw their creations come to fruition as they used the 3D printer. “As open source technology becomes more and more available, it’s our local youth that take the lead on designing, implementing, and ultimately furthering future technologies as they explore their own creations and applications,” says Garman.
In its pilot year at the Burlington Public Library the program saw more than 30 youth participate, averaging 8-10 per week. The program was to provided to teens ages 13 to 18 with after school programming, at no cost, and included a free Boys & Girls Club membership. The library will continue to run a youth program through the summer and the Boys & Girls Club will be providing a week long STEM Camp at the Burlington School District building in August. As of now, the Boys & Girls Club and the Burlington Public Library are in discussions about continuing teen programs for the following school year. Until then, the Boys & Girls Club and the Burlington Public Library will continue to provide youth and teen programs as well as resources throughout the summer.