About Us

To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.

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Boys & Girls Clubs programs have taken members from the Clubhouse to the White House; from the games room to the corporate boardroom; from the high school orchestra to Carnegie Hall.
Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization (tax ID number: 91-0759832)

Our organization has been built around a rich history that started on 25th and Yakima Street in 1940. The Tacoma Boys Club at 711 South 25th Street located on the site of Longfellow School, was dedicated on April 24, 1942. The $25,000 colonial structure was located in an area with a high rate of juvenile delinquency. It was founded by Judge Fred Remann to fulfill the social needs of boys 6-16 and provide them with proper guidance, while keeping them occupied and out of trouble. The Salvation Army owned the facility and provided the Club with a yearly budget. After some time there was a struggle that ensued when the Boys Club wanted to proceed with doing business independently. Eventually they separated from Salvation Army.

The Clubs served many kids in the area and soon became very popular, leading to the development of other new Clubs beginning with the South End in 1954. The East Side Club soon followed, beginning operations in the Hillsdale Community Center and the Northwest Club, which started as an athletic association that eventually evolved into a Club operating in a remodeled church at 30th and Cheyenne. A capital campaign spearheaded by Doug Gonyea was held in 1979 leading to the construction and opening in 1981 of the current Al Davies and Gonyea Branches.

In 1965, recognizing the need to develop an association with all Clubs in Tacoma, Boys Clubs of Tacoma and Pierce County was formed. In 1982 the organization officially changed its name to Boys & Girls Clubs of Tacoma and Pierce County. In 1990 the Boys Clubs of America changed its name to Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Boys & Girls Clubs of Tacoma and Pierce County began formally serving girls as members. The Clubs worked hard to develop training and facility improvements that would provide equal access and inclusion for girls.

Other communities saw the importance of the work going on in Tacoma. A group of business leaders, with strong support from the Lakewood Rotary Club, established the Lakewood Branch of Boys & Girls Clubs of Tacoma and Pierce County, operating out of Lakeview Elementary from 1993-1996. Construction began in 1996 on the branch facility adjacent to the elementary school and a new Club was dedicated in 1997 as the Lakewood Branch.

In July of 1996 the organization hired Gary Yazwa as the new CEO with the task of bringing the organization’s resources and talents together. The focus would be on the long range stability and assuring the future of the Clubs. This would include a plan and strategy for improving facilities and improving the infrastructure that would support the organization’s long range goal of providing quality facilities, quality programs for youth and quality staff supported by dedicated board members.

A board retreat was held in October of 1996. Discussions began at that board retreat and a plan was adopted to restructure and merge all Clubs in Tacoma. Board of Directors of each Branch Club formally signed merger and restructure documents and officially changed the name of the organization to Boys & Girls Clubs of Pierce County.

In 1999 the Board approved the $5.9 million Campaign for Kids designed to improve and enhance the existing Clubs along with providing dollars targeted at staff retention, worker benefits and training. In 2001 the Campaign for Kids $5.9 million goal was exceeded by nearly $1.3 million, reaching a total of $7.2 million.

Construction and renovation took place during the campaign and in 2001 the first BOTT Lab, (Building Opportunity Through Technology) a 4,000 square foot state of the art technology center, opened at the East Side Branch. In 2002 and 2003 renovations to the East Side, D.A. Gonyea and Al Davies Clubs were completed, finishing the first phase of the growth and development plan. Membership was approximately 10,000. The new look to the facilities attracted more kids and excited the board even more about the future of the organization. As more and more communities witnessed the success of the organization and in response to many requests to move into new or under-served areas in 2002, the South Pierce County Branch was formed and began by operating 4 Outreach Sites in Bethel and Franklin Pierce School Districts. In 2003 the Outreach program expanded to include three additional schools and was officially chartered in 2005.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of West Sound was started in the Belfair area and was operating successfully when it joined our organization in 2003 becoming the North Mason Branch. This included a Teen Center and two 21st Century Learning Centers located in elementary schools. As a part of the strategic plan the organization set its sights on reaching out to new or under-served communities. This led to yet another name change better reflecting the current and future areas the organization planned on serving over the next ten years. In 2003 the organization became Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound.

In 2004 Outreach Services expanded once again to reach youth in the Fife and Puyallup School Districts. There were a total of fifteen Outreach Sites within the Bethel, Fife, Franklin Pierce, North Mason and Puyallup School Districts as well as partnership programs within the Tacoma School District and several BOTTLabs within private organizations.

As the plan for growth was underway, the board took a bold step that will forever be a statement as to the importance of raising the bar and taking the organization to the next level by responding to the many communities that expressed need and desire for Boys & Girls Clubs. A new model was developed around “HOPE Centers” (Home of Opportunity, Possibility and Empowerment), which are designed to share buildings, staff and resources to better serve youth and families.

After a lead gift from the Gary E. Milgard Family Foundation on June 16, 2004 the Board of Directors unanimously approved moving ahead with plans for a three-phase $60,000,000 “It just takes ONE Campaign”. The goal of the campaign was to build HOPE Centers anchored with Boys & Girls Clubs and including partnerships with other agencies enabling the organization to leverage facilities, dollars and talent.

In 2006 a new branch opened in Bremerton with strong local support from community leaders and the Bremerton School District. The South Kitsap Branch followed in the summer of 2007, with support from the South Kitsap School District and the community.

The first of the HOPE Centers, the Gary and Carol Milgard Family Hope Center (GCMFHC) in Lakewood was dedicated on September 6, 2007 with the grand opening on September 10th. The Jim and Carolyn Milgard Family HOPE Center and Cheney Family Branch (Gig Harbor) began construction the following summer, with the opening in October of 2009. That same year, construction began on the Donald G. Topping Regional HOPE Center and Henry T. Schatz Branch (Tacoma) and opened in September 2010, which combined the aging facilities that housed the South End and East Side Branches. When the HOPE Center in Tacoma was opened, a partnership with Bethlehem Baptist Church was created, to run a program in their community center in East Tacoma, creating the new Eastside Branch. These 2 sites are currently serving more youth each day than ever before.

In 2011 the organization launched a campaign to build a new Teen Center in Bremerton, as part of the Youth Wellness Campus, in partnership with the City and the Bremerton School District. The Bremerton Teen Center was dedicated on October 18, 2013, with the first day of programs on November 4, 2013. 

Today, the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound is serving on average over 1,300 youth each day at 14 sites in Pierce, Mason and Kitsap Counties and in partnership with 7 school districts (Bethel, Bremerton, Clover Park, North Mason, Peninsula, South Kitsap and Tacoma). Over $1.6 million in financial aid was provided to families, ensuring those who need us most are able to participate in the life changing programs in the Clubs. Great futures start here.

History of Boys & Girls Clubs of America
The Boys and Girls Club Movement began in the United States during the Civil War. Its inception is traced to Hartford, Connecticut with the formation of the Dashaway Club to serve needy boys in the community. Boys & Girls Clubs of America had its beginnings in 1860 when several women, believing that boys who roamed the streets should have a positive alternative, organized the first Club. A cause was born. The idea spread to other areas of the country and more Clubs were formed. The first Club to use “Boys Club” in its official title was the Boys Club of New York in 1876. At this time, the Clubs served only boys.

In 1906, the existing 50 Clubs joined together to form a national organization known as the Boys Club of America. The Federated Boys Clubs in Boston was formed with 53 member organizations. 

In 1956, Boys Clubs of America celebrated its 50th anniversary and President Eisenhower gave the national organization a Congressional Charter – a rare honor bestowed on only a few non-profit organizations in our country’s history.

In response to a growing need, the Boys Clubs began to also serve girls. In 1990, the national organization officially changed its name to Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Today there are over 4,000 Clubs in the United States serving over 4,000,000 members. There are similar organizations in Germany, Australia, Canada, and many other countries around the world. 

Subpages (1): Board Roster
John Franich,
Feb 17, 2015, 9:48 AM
John Franich,
Feb 17, 2015, 9:48 AM
John Franich,
Feb 17, 2015, 9:48 AM
Jinnie Horan,
Sep 4, 2018, 9:46 AM
John Franich,
Apr 30, 2013, 3:42 PM