Peninsula Subaru-Suzuki owner John Dionas speaks to the crowd during the dedication ceremony Oct. 1. Peninsula Subaru-Suzuki has hosted the Kid’s Classic Golf Tournament for seven years. Funds raised during the tournament, both this year and last, were used to purchase a new 15-passenger van for the Boys and Girls Club in Gig Harbor. The $30,000 van was bought specifically to transport children from the Key Peninsula to the Boys and Girls Club. Photo by Scott Turner, Special to KP News

Details are still unclear, but kids on the Key Peninsula could soon have transportation to the new Boys and Girls Club facility in Gig Harbor. A 15-passenger van has been purchased for the Boys and Girls Club from money raised at the Kids Classic Golf Tournament held at Canterwood Golf and Country Club in Gig Harbor Sept. 25.

The keys were handed over to the Boys and Girls Club during the dedication ceremony Oct. 1.  The Boys and Girls Club will open Oct. 5.

Plans to purchase the van have been in the works for a long time, according to Jo Ann Maxwell, director of the Jim and Carolyn Milgard Family HOPE Center.

“When the initial decision was to build next to Henderson Bay there was discussion about serving the kids on the Key Peninsula,” Maxwell said.

John and Melinda Dionas of Peninsula Subaru-Suzuki decided to use the money raised through the Kids Classic Golf Tournament for a van to transport children from the Key Peninsula to the Gig Harbor facility.

Bringing everyone to the table to develop a plan for coordinating the transportation is the next step, she said. Though the Boys and Girls Club would like to pick up children in a central location, such as the Key Peninsula Family Resource Center, that plan is not yet in place.

“The Boys and Girls Club is responsible for figuring out how they will get the kids and the programs, and the van is theirs,” said Jud Morris, program manager of the Key Peninsula Family Resource Center in Vaughn.  “We are not involved with coordination of the van. We only have two other fulltime staff members, and don’t have the time or the bodies to pick the kids up.”

So the Boys and Girls Club has been communicating with the Peninsula School District, Maxwell said, to see if it can provide transportation for the elementary and middle schools, but nothing has been decided.

How many children will be included is another concern, Maxwell said. The van can hold up to 15, but if more children wish to participate, there would need to be another plan in place for getting them to and from the facility.

“We hope to iron all of that out very soon,” she said. “We don’t want a delay with serving those kids.

“I do know that something we’d like to implement next school year is programs within the schools on the Key Peninsula,” she said. “We know that our programs are productive and they are well received and change kid’s lives, so we want to offer programs to as many kids as we can.”

The Boys and Girls Club includes six core program areas, technology, sports fitness and recreation with a nutritional component, health and life skills, character and leadership and the arts.

Each child who comes to the Boys and Girls Club will get help with homework every day, and each week will get some kind of program in the other areas, Maxwell said. Children are divided into age groups and the entire program is choreographed and supervised.

Fees are on a sliding scale, and those who cannot afford to pay will not be turned away, Maxwell said.

“We do not turn any child away for any reason,” she said. “We will have a one-on-one conversation with the parents so we can understand their situation, and we have paperwork they fill out for that.”

Prices are $90 a month for children who pay full price for lunch at school, $60 for those on a reduced program, and $30 a month for those who are on the free lunch program. Fees for the 13 to 18-year-olds are only $60 per year, because they don’t tend to come every day, Maxwell said.

“We want to make it attractive for the teens to be here,” she said.

For more information about the programs at the Boys and Girls Club in Gig Harbor, call 502-4601 ext. 4671.

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