Grand Opening of BGCB’s Fieldhouse at Hidden Valley

Hidden Valley Grand Opening 008Boys & Girls Clubs of Bellevue hosted a public ceremony on Saturday, March 28th celebrating the Grand Opening of our Foster Family Foundation Branch – the Fieldhouse at Hidden Valley Sports Park. We had a great time celebrating the opening of our awesome new space!

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Our MC’s and longtime BGCB members, Javonte and Anthony.

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Mayor Claudia Balducci and City Councilmembers.

We were joined by Mayor Claudia Balducci and City Councilmembers Lynn Robinson, Jennifer Robertson, John Stokes and John Chelminiak who spoke to the impact that this project will have on the greater community. The new Fieldhouse at Hidden Valley Park is a unique partnership with the City of Bellevue that will provide recreational facilities for thousands of youth and their families on the Eastside. This 27,000 sq. ft facility has three courts, classroom space and a concession stand that will serve both the indoor courts and outdoor sports fields. Hidden Valley Fieldhouse is now open for programming and houses BGCB’s Athletics programs for ages 5-18. Registration is online at

Our awesome partner, Coca-Cola, generously donated refreshments for the grand opening. They also presented us with a check consisting of the proceeds from their recent employee 3 on 3 basketball tournament – hosted at the Hidden Valley Fieldhouse!

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We are so excited to celebrate this huge milestone! In 2012, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bellevue launched a community-wide campaign to open more doors for more kids – helping to meet the needs of a growing Bellevue and strengthen the fabric of our community. Through this campaign, we want to expand our capacity to serve over 70% more youth by increasing our programmable space by 80% throughout the city. The Hidden Valley Fieldhouse is the second capital project to open since then, the first being “The Club” Teen Center in East Bellevue. We aim to break ground on the third and final project – our Main Clubhouse in downtown Bellevue, this year.Hidden Valley Grand Opening 006

The new Fieldhouse could not have been built without our incredible partnership with the City of Bellevue, the hard work of our dedicated Board Members and our amazing community of supporters!


Community Celebrates Solarize Bellevue’s Success

On March 27th, Solarize Bellevue hosted a ceremony at our Teen Center celebrating the successful campaign to bring solar power systems to residents of Bellevue aSolarize Bellevue 004nd the install of Boys & Girls Clubs of Bellevue’s newly donated solar array! Event attendees included Mayor Claudia Balducci, Solarize Bellevue coalition – City of Bellevue, Pacific Northwest PPRC, NW Electric and Solar, community members, program volunteers, BGCB members and staff, Carbon Yeti  and Seattle Seahawks mascot Blitz!

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Mayor Balducci spoke of the great impact that this program has had on the community – and to her personally, as her family installed a solar array on their home through the program. BGCB Vice President Ryan Scott took a few minutes to thank the Solarize Bellevue coalition, volunteers and participating community members. Without their participation in the program, we would not be the excited recipient of our new solar array. Our Club network here in Bellevue continues to grow, and we want to make sure that our growth generates a larger impact among the young people that we serve, and not a larger footprint within the environment.  Our newly solarized Teen Center will benefit our Club fiscally, environmentally and programmatically. We are so thrilled that our students will now have the opportunity to experience hands-on STEM activities and lessons around renewable energy sources.

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The Solarize Bellevue Program strives to encourage Washington residents to green their homes by purchasing solar systems for their homes/businesses. The first year of the campaign sought to install solar arrays on 30 local residences. The program has far surpassed its goal and has now installed more than 50 arrays! Once Solarize Bellevue hit their original goal, NW Electric and Solar generously agreed to donate a full solar system to a local non-profit – with the winner of the array being decided by community vote on social media. Thanks to the votes and support from the community, Boys & Girls Clubs of Bellevue was declared the winner and we couldn’t be happier!

After the ceremony, our teens constructed Solar Rover cars and learned more about solar energy and its many uses from team members at Puget Sound Energy.   Solarize Bellevue 051

Dr. Judson Werner Carries on a Tradition of Smiles

Over a decade ago, The American Dental Association started “Give Kids a Smile Day”, a volunteer initiative providing free educational, preventative, and restorative services to children from families who may not have access to dental care.  Through this program, dental professionals all over the country volunteer their time and services to provide kids in their community with free dental visits.  We are so fortunate to have Dr. Judson Werner’s Family Dentistry, a long-time “Give Kids a Smile Day” participant, right here in our own city. This year marked the 11th year that Dr. Werner’s office has invited Boys & Girls Clubs of Bellevue to celebrate this awesome day together!Dental Day 6 2015

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Last week, more than 20 of our Club kids were given completely free dental check-ups including cleanings, dental hygiene tips, exams, fluoride and fillings. Over the years, our partnership with Dr. Werner’s office has provided our kids with annual dental visits that they otherwise may not have had access to.

The kids had an awesome time with Dr. Werner and his staff, who went to great lengths to make the experience a fun one from start to finish.  We are grateful to have amazing partners like this who provide such important opportunities for our Club kids.  Big thanks to Dr. Judson Werner and his whole team!

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Getting some tips for brushing those hard to reach places!

BGCB’s Inspirational Youth of the Year

Staff at our Teen Center brought in volunteers from the community and our corporate partners (Toyota Financial Services and Waggener Edstrom) to help select the Youth of the Year who will represent the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bellevue. Participating teens wrote and delivered a speech about the impact that BGCB has had on their lives, and the volunteer judges made their selection based on those powerful speeches. The selection has been made and we’re so thrilled to announce that this year’s Boys & Girls Clubs of Bellevue Youth of the Year is… Kaitlynn!YouoftheYear 011

Kaitlynn has been a member of BGCB since she was in 3rd grade! Kaitlynn currently attends our Teen Center, where she participates in a variety of leadership and academic programs, including: Keystone Advisory – A teen-run council that plans and coordinates teen focused programs, community service and leadership opportunities; Diplomas to Degrees, a program -sponsored by Toyota Financial Services- designed to get teens prepared for college by offering SAT prep classes, college visits and tours, guest speakers, and career development; and SMART Girls – A program that offers young women – ages 8 to 17 – guidance toward healthy attitudes and lifestyles, self-esteem enhancement, and prevention/education.

Kaitlynn has already logged more than 300 community service hours as a part of Keystone Advisory – amazing! She says, “It {Keystone} has made me open my mind and learn about what people deal with on a daily basis and find ways to give back to my community.” Kaitlynn served as a Teen Steering Committee Member for the 2014 Boys & Girls Clubs of Washington State Teen Summit where she assisted with planning and implementing a day long leadership conference that hosted more than 200 Club members. She was selected to speak on behalf of the steering committee during the opening session and assisted with breakout sessions through the event. This year, she also planned a Holiday Toy Drive for kids at Swedish Hospital, helped with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night event and participated in Earth Corps where she worked to restore a section of forest and helped to remove and replace invasive plants.

Kaitlynn helps run the store at the Teen Center.

Kaitlynn helps run the store at the Teen Center.

BGCB Keystone Advisor and staff, Masao Yamada, has been working with Kaitlynn for the last few years and has been so proud of all of her accomplishments both inside and outside of The Club:

Kaitlynn has been coming to the Club since a very early age but it wasn’t until recently that she suffered some major hardships outside of the Club. Kaitlynn displayed extreme courage and strength to overcome these hardships. We are proud to have been, and will continue to be, a part of that support group she seeks as she achieves her goals and overcomes her obstacles.

Kaitlynn is such an incredible example of the staples of youth development that we emphasize throughout our programs – academic success, character development & leadership and healthy lifestyles. Kaitlynn is looking at two possible tracks for her post-secondary education/training. One is to attend the Culinary Institute of America’s NYC Campus. Kaitlynn’s interest in culinary arts was piqued when she started taking a culinary class at Newport HS. She would love to one day open a full service kitchen where she could serve homeless members of her community.  Another option she is considering is to pursue a degree in Physical Therapy at Everest College. Kaitlynn recently suffered a knee injury when playing basketball and has gained an interest in physical therapy as she was working with PT’s in her recovery. Regardless of the path Kaitlynn chooses, we are sure she will find great success and continue to be a pillar of inspiration in her community.

Kaitlynn will go on to participate in the Boys & Girls Clubs of Washington State Association’s Youth of the Year Award dinner this spring, where the Washington State YOY will be selected.

YouoftheYear 001Congratulations, Kaitlynn! Best of luck to you as you advance in the YOY selection!

Announcing our Jr. Youth of the Year!

We are so excited to announce The Boys & Girls Clubs of Bellevue’s Junior Youth of the Year….Johnny!

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Johnny has been coming to BGCB’s Project Learn Program at Hidden Village since he was in kindergarten! He has always been an exemplary member of BGCB, and we have loved having him be a part of our Clubs over the years. Johnny always has a positive, “can do” attitude, a willingness to help others and an eagerness to learn and experience new things. Johnny wrote an essay about what The Club means to him.  Here’s a segment from his essay:

“The Club has been a great place for me. I have been coming since kindergarten. I have made lots of friends and wonderful memories here. The Club is a great place for kids who like to have fun. The Boys and Girls Club is a place for everyone. The staff has been very helpful by helping me with my homework and more. The Club has built up my confidence in school and I am able to do so much more than I was before.”

Johnny is an amazing young man who takes great pride in his Club.  We are sure that we will see many more wonderful things from him in the future! Way to go, Johnny, and keep up the awesome work!

Teen Center Turned Green Center

Our very own Teen Center has been chosen as the recipient of a 3.51 kW solar array donated by Northwest Electric and Solar as part of the Solarize Bellevue campaign. The campaign is coordinated by the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center (PPRC) and the City of Bellevue and strives to encourage Washington residents to purchase solar systems for their homes/businesses. Northwest Electric and Solar generously agreed to donate a system to a local non-profit in the event that 30 residences and/or businesses purchased solar arrays. The Solarize Bellevue campaign surpassed its goal of 30 purchases, and asked the community to vote for the winner of the system.  Thanks to all of you who took a moment to vote for our Teen Center!

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Our soon-to-be solarized Teen Center currently serves over 4,000 teens annually and includes a two-building teen complex located in the neighborhood of Lake Hills in East Bellevue. The Lake Hills community is one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in Bellevue. In response to this rapid growth, we opened a Clubhouse in 2010, in partnership with Microsoft, called the Teen Excellence Center (TXL). TXL is home to our BE GREAT: Graduate drop-out prevention program and Degrees 2 Diplomas, a college preparedness program. In 2012, we opened “The Club” Teen Center – home to our drop-in, Best Buy Teen Tech Center, summer camp, Music Advisory and late night teen programs. Another program we offer, Keystone Club -a youth service group- includes teen members who actively engage the community in service, including green-focused initiatives. As our network of clubhouses and number of kids we serve continues to grow, we are committed to making sure our environmental footprint stays small. The opportunity to solarize our Teen Center sets a great example and provides a wealth of teaching opportunities for our over 4,000 teen members.

We are so thrilled to receive this incredible award. We are looking forward to seeing the increase in environmental initiatives at our Club as a result of this installation!  Special thanks to Solarize Bellevue, PPRC, City of Bellevue and NW Electric and Solar for helping us take our commitment to sustainability to the next level!

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Culinary Queen Cooking up Some Fun at Hidden Village Clubhouse

Yvonne Avalos, Director at our Hidden Village Clubhouse, first moved from her hometown of Yakima to the Seattle metro area in 2008. Back then, she had no idea that answering a Craigslist ad for a part time position with Boys and Girls Clubs of Bellevue would turn into a thriving six year career with the organization.

Yvonne got her start at BGCB as part time program staff at our Lake Hills Elementary site. Within her first two years, she also moved around to other Clubhouses, filling in wherever there was a need. From early on, one of Yvonne’s favorite parts of her job has always been the connection she gets to build with the kids and parents. Working at different sites in those first two years allowed her to connect with lots of kids and families from multiple neighborhoods, many who still stop in to say hello and share news or updates.


Yvonne helping a student in the Tech Center.

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Since 2011, Yvonne has been Site Director at Hidden Village, a Clubhouse located in one of King County Housing Authority’s rental housing locations. Working at Hidden Village, Yvonne has quickly become a member of the community. One of her favorite memories was when a community member brought in home cooked tamales as a “thank you” for the staffs’ hard work and positive impact.

Yvonne is known as a bit of a culinary legend around here. She loves cooking and sharing her knowledge with others. Especially within a community of high need like Hidden Village (75% of students qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch), Yvonne and her staff know that it is imperative to take our commitment to health and nutrition to the next level not only by ensuring that all “Club Kids” have access to healthy foods, but also that they know how to turn those foods into well balanced, delicious meals. “I see a lot of myself in the kids here. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, so we had to make it work with what we had. I want to make sure these kids have the same opportunities that I was given, and even more.”

Club Kids teaching Yvonne how to play a math game.

Club Kids teaching Yvonne how to play a math game.

Growing up, Yvonne admits that she didn’t have much of an interest in cooking, but would always pay attention as her mom was preparing meals for their family. She learned a lot by watching, and once she got to college, started putting together her own dishes. Her talents and love for cooking have only grown over time. She loves having the ability to share her knowledge with “Club Kids” and knowing that they can take these lessons with them wherever they go. Yvonne often works informative cooking classes into weekly activities. One of her favorite activities since she started working with BGCB was when some of the sites put on a cooking competition where teams of kids competed in a “cook off.” The kids and staff had a blast, learned a lot and got to eat some delicious meals!

This month, ABC’s The Chew featured our community partner, Food Lifeline, the largest hunger relief organization in the state, in a segment called “ThanksGiving Back.” Knowing the emphasis we put on health and nutrition, Food Lifeline asked if they could film a portion of the segment at our Hidden Village Clubhouse to highlight the healthy after school snacks that Food Lifeline provides for our Club Kids. Both staff and kids had a great time filming!  Being highlighted in this segment was a testament to staff like Yvonne who embody our organization’s commitment to the health and wellness of every kid who walks in our doors.