Representatives from several groups are discussing the possibility of establishing a Boys and Girls Club of America program on the Key Peninsula. The group had its first official meeting in December, spearheaded by Peninsula School District Superintendent Terry Bouck, Boys and Girls Club of South Puget Sound CEO President Gary Yazwa.
More than a dozen people were part of the meeting, including Pierce County Councilman Terry Lee and representatives from the Key Peninsula Civic Center, one of the potential locations for a program.
“I think there are several people wanting to work hard to make sure our kids on the Key Peninsula are afforded some of the same opportunities our kids in town will have when the Boys and Girls opens up and the YMCA opens up (in Gig Harbor),” Bouck said.
The group will look at various options, including locating a program at one of the Key Pen schools or another facility such as the Civic Center. Such a program would probably be a satellite site or an outreach site of the Gig Harbor Hope Center, said Boys and Girls Club of South Puget Sound COO Rick Guild. The Hope Center, which is being planned and is anticipated to open in less than two years near Henderson Bay High School, will include a Boys and Girls Club as well as a senior center.
Lee said his role and the role of the county would be to help locate land, if a facility is to be built, help with permitting and possibly some funding.
“I’ve put $170,000 into the Gig Harbor Boys and Girls Club, I can do the same here,” he said. “It’s a little more challenging to do out here (because of fund-raising) but not so challenging that you don’t want to try to make it a reality.”
Although there have been other talks in the past about bringing a B&G program to the Key Peninsula, “there hasn’t been enough interest in the community at that point,” Guild said. The current discussion is in preliminary stages, but the local leaders feel the momentum will continue.
“(The meeting) was a great first step,” Lee said, adding that the timing is right for the community because the Key Peninsula Community Planning Board is wrapping up its work and he feels some of the board members may be interested in becoming involved with an effort to bring youth programs to the area.
“We all believe there is a lot of need here,” Guild said.
The group is only starting to explore options, so no specific timelines have been set so far. A second meeting is planned for January. Bouck believes the goal is to find a short-term fix, possibly by creating a site locally or providing transportation to Gig Harbor, as well as considering a long-term solution by examining the feasibility of building. Vaughn and Evergreen elementary schools, Key Peninsula Middle School, Key Peninsula Civic Center as well as the Red Barn have been named as potential locations.
“We are going to have a Boys and Girls Club close to Henderson Bay and a YMCA; it’s difficult for students to come from the Key Peninsula area,” Bouck said. “We are exploring how we can bring similar services to those kids.”
He believes a partnership with several agencies may provide better opportunities, and hopes to bring YMCA representatives to the table. “Right now, we’re looking at how we can partner best for the kids,” he said. “We’ll continue to talk about (possibilities) and formulate a plan.”