Community group meets to discuss strategy for Boys & Girls Club

Youth: Leaders gather to talk about how to market programs to parents of young children

Special to the GatewayFebruary 12, 2014 

Community leaders met last month at the Cheney Family Boys & Girls Club to discuss services offered at the club and how to reach more families.

Information gathered will help direct efforts for the coming year.

Key areas for youth, 6-18, include age-appropriate programs in character and leadership, education and career, health and life skills, arts, sports, fitness and recreation, as well as technology.

“Enthusiasm is contagious when community leaders are brainstorming about advancement of our local kids,” said Judy Hosea, the director for development of the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound.

Natalie Kuzmick, the area director of the Boys & Girls Club, said the goal is to let children and parents know about the opportunities the club provides every day.

“It’s so amazing to have community advocates that are just as passionate as we are to help our local youth,” she said.

Carol Virak-Siler, who was the special project manager focused on building the Gig Harbor club, has given many tours of the facility.

“The Boys & Girls Club in Gig Harbor is an amazing organization that functions at the highest level in meeting the emotional and intellectual needs in a young person’s life,” she said. “While it is certainly a caring and nurturing place for kids in their after-school activities, the activities themselves help young people develop strong character, and the programs the kids participate in are exceptional.”

Virak-Siler noted a range in programs, from computer technology to acting.

“Programs the HOPE Center in Gig Harbor has for young people are cutting-edge in technology and are programs that are not available elsewhere in our community,” she said. “This organization is accepting kids in their after-school time and helping them excel because of the quality of activities available. What more could a parent ask for, especially those parents who are working?”

Gig Harbor Mayor Jill Guernsey said those who attended the forum shared valuable ideas.

“I wish the club had been open when my sons were young,” Guernsey said. “As a working parent who commuted from Gig Harbor to Tacoma, it would have been a lifesaver for our family.”

Mark Starnes, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, called members of the focus group a “Dream Team” of influential leaders.

“We are thrilled to have such an outstanding group of Gig Harbor community leaders help us tell our story,” Starnes said.

The group included Dan Gregory, Brad Cheney, Jeff Brown, Jan Kampbell, Darren Zemanek, Hugh McMillan, Walt Smith, Jinnie Hanson and Mark Hoppen, as well as Hosea, Kuzmick, Virak-Siler, Guernsey and Starnes.

For more information, call Kuzmick at 253- 502-4670 or email

Hugh McMillan is a longtime freelance writer for The Peninsula Gateway. He can be reached at 253-884-3319 or by email at hmcmnp1000@

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