Birch Bay discusses possible Boys and Girls Club

Published on Thu, Aug 7, 2003 by Shanna Green

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Birch Bay discusses possible Boys and Girls Club

By Shanna Green

Parents and community members who are worried that there are no resources for children and teenagers in Birch Bay, are encouraged to voice their concerns and suggestions, and be part of a solution by joining the Birch Bay Kids! Task Force.

�As parents and youth get ready for school, this fall we want to form a Birch Bay Kids Task Force to identify how we can work towards enriching community life for our kids,� said Alan Friedlob, who is facilitating the project.

The lack of activities for young people in Birch Bay has been an issue for a long time, Friedlob said, but after many citizens expressed concerns at Smart Growth Birch Bay�s meetings, he wanted to follow it up and see what the community could do about it.

The task force was then formed with the main goal of implementing a club or activities center for the youth in Birch Bay.

Friedlob said that the task force is open to different ideas of what the center could be, but that one of their main options would be to open a Boys and Girls Club in Birch Bay.

According to the U.S. census, there are about 800-900 kids between the ages of 6-18 living in Birch Bay. Since Birch Bay does not have it�s own school, most of them attend school in Blaine and about 100-150 use the Blaine Boys and Girls Club during the school year, according to Randy Kirk, the director of the Blaine facility.

If Birch Bay opened it�s own Boys and Girls Club, Kirk said, it would greatly impact the Blaine club. �It would take a good amount of members out of here,� he said. �Most of the kids who come here during the school year come right after school.�

Lynn Templeton, the Whatcom County Boys and Girls Club CEO, said if citizens of Birch Bay really want a Boys and Girls Club in their area, then they will have to get together and make sure they have the right resources first.

Templeton said that for a club to be placed in Birch Bay, the community must have five things: the demonstration of need in the community, an acceptable location to operate in, a consistent long-term funding system, a staff to work at the club, including a director, and a local unit advisory board in the community.

The funding issue is extremely important because it would be a waste of time and money to set up a club if funding was only available for a few months, Templeton said. The startup costs for a part-time Boys and Girls Club in Birch Bay would be about $10,000, Templeton said, and the club would need at least $20,000-30,000 a year to keep it going.

Friedlob said he realized what it would take to get a club started and said that is why the task force was formed, so that parents, children and anyone in the community who is concerned could come together and work toward starting a center.

�We will most likely need a centrally accessible place to locate the community�s youth programs and will need widespread community support to find and support such a place,� Friedlob said. �We are looking for citizens of Birch Bay, including youth, who would like to work together to figure out how we can tap into the strengths these kids have, fostering the positive relationships, opportunities, skills and values than can help Birch Bay youth grow up healthy.�

If you are interested in joining the Birch Bay Kids! Task Force, please contact Alan Friedlob at 371-3441 or email him at citizenscience@comcast.net.

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