Mary Budke, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, stands in the game room of the Mount Angeles Unit in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Mary Budke, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, stands in the game room of the Mount Angeles Unit in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles club for youth seeks funds for new facility

PORT ANGELES — A haven for children needs help from adults.

The Port Angeles branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula is seeking a new home.

The facility at 2620 S. Francis St. is too small to take any more young people, and more than 100 are waiting to become members, about 130 participants at a community fundraising kickoff breakfast learned Wednesday.

They heard a presentation by leaders of units of the Boys & Girls Clubs in Port Angeles and Sequim at the Port Angeles Red Lion Hotel.

A grateful Mary Budke, the executive director who heads the Port Angeles and Sequim clubhouses, told those attending the breakfast that organizers have raised more than 60 percent of the $6.9 million needed for a new facility, which will double as a designated emergency shelter.

Budke was taken aback by the early Wednesday morning attendance.

“What I see in this room has me kind of choked up,” she said.

She recognized a former Boys & Girls Clubs member who works for the hotel.

“She said, ‘Mary, I’m going to work the event,’ I said, ‘what are you doing?’

“She said, I bought my house, I have a home, it’s not much, but I can have my dog there.”

The Port Angeles club serves 130 to 160 children in school who are 6 to 18 years old on any given day. They can attend the club year-round for $30 per year, per child.

The new facility, nearby but more centrally located on Lauridsen Boulevard, will accommodate up to 300 children.

At least three part-time employees will be added to the staff of 14 workers, Budke said.

The building will continue to offer children’s lunches and house computer, art and game rooms, but will have a gym, a dedicated teen center and a commercial kitchen.

“It will be a community center, something we can offer right there on Lauridsen,” said Steve Deutermann, board president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula.

“I can’t tell you how exciting it is to be involved in this, and now you are all involved.”

About 100 donors have contributed or promised $4.2 million of the total needed, organizer Norma Turner said in a separate interview.

The goal: To complete fundraising by December.

“We call that our aspirational goal,” Turner said later Wednesday.

Budke said organizers want to begin construction in April and complete the project by the beginning of 2020.

The new facility will replace the approximately 7,000-square-foot building on South Francis Street that the organization is occupying rent free, courtesy of the Peninsula Housing Authority.

It will be demolished to make way for new Housing Authority homes, construction of which is ongoing.

The new 16,500-square-foot clubhouse will be built on Housing Authority property between Franklin and Jefferson elementary schools.

“The importance of that is it’s accessible by public transit,” Turner said Wednesday.

The organization will pay the Housing Authority a yearly lease of $1, similar to the Sequim clubhouse’s payment of $1 a year to the Sequim School District.

Wednesday morning’s 25-minute presentation was anchored by a 6-minute video of testimonials from children and adults about the facility.

“I have no worries when I go to work at all while she’s here,” one woman said.

“We have grown exponentially over the last several years,” Budke said on the video.

“More kids can come, and we can have a gym,” said one child. “We can have basketball there.”

In one presentation toward the end of the breakfast, Port Angeles auto dealership founder and community leader Dan Wilder Sr. — another “club kid,” as Budke described him — recalled growing up in Pasadena, Calif.

Wilder said his mother was a single mom, a waitress, which he said wasn’t that bad because he learned to iron, do the laundry and cook.

“I didn’t have a lot of, let’s call it, supervision,” he said.

Wilder and his friends would go to what then was the Boys Club and play basketball, mess around in the pool, play games.

“It was always a safe place for us to go,” Wilder said.

“It was like a second family.”

Wilder, a former auto parts delivery man who owned his first dealership at age 27, said he sees opportunity to give back to the community.

“For all of us, whether you are in business or not, you make an investment, and you decide what’s the best investment you can make.

“So to me, the best investment we can ever make is our kids.

“These kids are the treasure of our community, and we need to invest in them, and by having this new Boys & Girls Club, it’s going to be incredible, [enable us] to reach more kids, be able to feed more kids, and just do a great job in our community.”

Budke closed the program by asking if any in the audience ran the mile when they were younger.

“Back in the day, when you got to Lap 2, you’re thinking, ‘I got this made, I can run all day long.’

“Lap 3 is where we are at.

“It’s where you step off the track and don’t even know it, because we are here today, we want to make sure we don’t step off the track, because we are at 60 percent, the last 40 percent is going to be tough.

“We’ll be coming to you in the weeks and days ahead.”

________

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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