City youth group nears Boys & Girls Club status

"Oak Harbor's Partnership With Youth has taken steps toward becoming an official Boys & Girls Club, applying to become a branch of the Skagit County chapter.We have basically been operating like a Boys' and Girls' Club, with similar programs, activities and goals, said Roosevelt Rumble, director of Partnership With Youth. We are basically remodeling.PWY will be able to continue with its existing programs, while adding Boys' and Girls' Clubs program models.Boys' and Girls' Club is a national nonprofit organization established in 1906 that provides programs for children geared toward providing safe and drug-free youth activities.Partnership With Youth was founded with the same objective about five years ago by a group of concerned citizens that wanted to provide a safe place for kids to hang out, said Duncan Chalfant, board president. The program was originally housed at the Family Service Center at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, and then, after receiving a Model Cities grant from the Department of Defense and a large monetary donation from a local business, was able to secure and relocate to its present property, the Roller Barn, 98 NE Baron Drive.Becoming part of the national organization will open the doors for the Partnership With Youth to serve even more children, Chalfant said. With national name recognition, the organization will have greater funding and grant opportunities, a wider range of programs, and will have better opportunities to collaborate on projects with other organizations.Both now and after the expected change-over, the local organization is and will remain open to all youth. While the group aims to help kids that have gotten into trouble or come from abusing and neglectful homes, it is also for children from stable families of every income level. At the club activities all kids are equal, Rumble said.The goal, Rumble said, is to provide something fun and supervised to keep kids from getting into trouble.Even the best kid can make a serious mistake and change his life forever, Chalfant said.Chalfant said statistics show that given the choice between a fun, safe activity or hanging out on the streets with the potential for trouble, kids will choose the safe activity.We have a lot of things we want to do and a lot of great ideas, said Rumble. Right now the current organization is lacking in resources.It's a struggle to keep it going, Rumble said.We need to hear from the people of Oak Harbor, Chalfant said. He said in the next week they will be launching a transition fund-raiser that will include a dinner auction slated for Friday, June 1, 2001.We also depend on volunteers, said Rumble, who invites public questions and comments at 240-9273.You can reach News-Times reporter Christine Smith at or call 675-6611 "

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