New Boys and Girls Club in Klamath

Yurok girl playing ping pong

Klamath youth enjoy a game of ping pong at the new Boys and Girls Club on the Yurok Reservation. [Photo provided by the Yurok Tribe]

Press release from the Yurok Tribe:

The Yurok Tribe is excited to announce that a special event is happening on Wednesday, July 19 to celebrate the opening of a new branch of the Boys & Girls Club of the Redwoods in Klamath.

“The Boys & Girls Club of the Redwoods in Klamath is a place where our children can participate in productive activities, learn about Tribal culture and socialize with friends in a safe space,” said Yurok Tribal Councilmember Ryan Ray, who helped bring the Boys & Girls Club to Klamath. “We are thrilled to be opening this new facility in Klamath. I would like to invite the whole community to this event and express my sincere gratitude to the Boys & Girls Club of the Redwoods for their commitment to our youth.”

The new recreational and educational facility on the Yurok Reservation was made possible by a partnership between the Yurok Tribe and the Boys & Girls Club of the Redwoods.

“The Boys & Girls Club in Klamath will provide ample opportunities for youth to learn traditional skills, including basket making, drum making and other cultural crafts. The Club will also prioritize its Formula for Impact to focus on its three priority outcomes of academic success, healthy lifestyles and good character and citizenship,” said Monica Rose Interim Executive Director for the Club.

“Our goal is to give kids the educational and social skills that they need to develop into healthy adults,” added Yurok Education Director Jim McQuillen, MSW, who also played an instrumental role in making the Boys & Girls Club a reality. “We are fortunate to have a partner in the Boys & Girls Club of the Redwoods that shares this same vision.”

The soft opening for the Boys & Girls Club of the Redwoods in Klamath is open to all. From 4pm to 6pm, the Boys & Girls Club staff will be signing up new club members, serving free food and handing out program information. In the summer, the Klamath Club will be open Monday through Friday from 12-7pm and will be working with youth ages 5-18.

The Tribe’s new relationship with the Boys & Girls Club — the highest profile youth institution in the US — will open up many opportunities previously unavailable to local youth. For example, club members will be able to participate in out-of-the area, age-appropriate leadership, character building and creative writing conferences. The Boys & Girls Club of the Redwoods in Klamath set up cultural exchanges with other clubs around the United States. There is also a plan to partner with some of the Yurok Tribe’s professional programs, including the Fisheries, Environmental and Wildlife Departments. The goal is to bring teenage club members out to job sites to give them a real-life perspective on the potential career options that are available on the Yurok Reservation.

The Yurok Tribe is the only tribe, of California’s 109 federally recognized tribes, to have an operating Boys & Girls Club. The Boys & Girls Club of the Redwoods in Klamath has three part-time staff and a full-time Unit Director, Nicole Dowd.  It is located at 168 Klamath Blvd., in the same building as the Yurok Youth Center. The newly renovated space is already furnished with a pool table and other table games, several computer stations and a video gaming area.

There are hundreds of kids who live in Klamath, but there are very few extracurricular activities offered locally. Families that would like their children to participate in organized sports or large-group activities have to drive for more than an hour to Crescent City. For families without a vehicle, this is next to impossible. The median family income in Klamath, $32,000, is about half of what it is for most places in the state of California and the poverty rate is close to 30 percent.

While the Tribe was working on opening the club in Klamath, the Tribal Council and Tribal staff were also developing plans to start another Boys & Girls Club of the Redwoods site in the Weitchpec area.  “Within six to nine months we plan on opening another facility near Weitchpec,” said McQuillen.

The Yurok Tribal Council would like to thank all of the community volunteers, who put a tremendous amount of time into remodeling the Klamath Boys and Girls Club facility. The Boys and Girls Club branch in Klamath was funded by a US Department of Justice CTAS grant, which was written by the Yurok Tribe’s Planning and Community Development and Education Departments. The Club is seeking additional funding to offer additional positive activities for local youth.

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