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.
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.”
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.