Northwest NEWS

October 14, 2002

Front Page

Friends of Youth to operate Duvall's new youth center

by Karen Waddington
   Contributing Writer
   Four years ago, the city of Duvall began looking into creating after-school programs. At the same time, Friends of Youth, a local agency serving the needs of more than 7,000 youth and their families in the Puget Sound area, was interested in developing a program in this area. It seemed like a perfect match. A task force was formed, grants applied for and everything was put into motion.
   The result is the new Glen Kuntz W.R.E.C.K. Center, which should be ready for use by local youngsters around the end of October. Named after former Mayor Glen Kuntz, the acronym stands for Willing, Responsible, Enthusiastic, Cautious Kids.
   The center is located on Stella Street, adjacent to the (under construction) new fire station. Originally a church and more recently the police station, the building has been completely remodeled, inside and out.
   According to Friends of Youth President Howard Finck, the agency does not have a cookie cutter approach when it comes to youth centers. Having built two very different centers that serve a wide variety of needs, Finck says it's all a reflection of the community and its needs.
   The Kirkland Youth Center was founded four years ago and currently serves the needs of about 1,200 kids a month.
   In North Bend, the Snoqualmie Valley Youth Hub even designed its own basketball program.
   "We are unusual in that we don't wrap our identity around a program, but allow it (the program) to build kids and build a community," he said.
   The youth center in Duvall will be designed to offer such things as games, resource materials, music, classes and crafts.
   Other suggestions have been computers to do homework on, classes in photography, soccer, dancing, self defense classes, etc.
   Other possibilities are endless and are based on activities that will appeal to a large group of kids, people who can teach or run these programs and feedback from kids and parents on the types of activities they would like to see. The center will also offer expanded services during the summer months.
   Plans are currently underway to create relationships with schools and PTSA's in the area, with mailers being sent out asking for parents, kids and community input.
   "Kids will have the responsibility and be empowered to promote the program," says Finck.
   The center is expecting to serve several hundred kids in the area a month.
   "This is not just a place to hang around and watch TV," said Finck. "It's a youth development center for kids who need their horizons expanded, not a place for bad kids to get good, but a place where all kids can be encouraged."
   The youth center is designed to serve kids ages 12-17, however, depending on community involvement and the needs that are voiced, that could change to include other age groups.
   Before the center can open there is still a lot of work to be done. Job descriptions have to be developed, people hired and furnishings need to be completed.
   There will be one full-time director and one part-time director, along with a core group of volunteers, including older youth.
   Finck believes in this project with all his heart.
   "The only thing that counts in this world is our relationship with each other," he said.
   Duvall Finance Director Dianne Nelson said a committee has been formed to work on needed furnishings for the center. Committee members include Nelson; Duvall Capital Project Manager Connie Zimmerman; former Mayor Glen Kuntz and Friends of Youth staff members Susan Rogel and Carl Thompson. Nelson said a $90,000 grant for furnishings and equipment came from the office of 8th District Rep. Jennifer Dunn.
   "We have until the year 2007 to spend it," said Nelson. "It will be an ongoing thing. Once we get the center running, we will have a bettter idea of what more we need."
   Nelson said the committee is currently considering the purchase of computers, a big screen TV and a pool table for the 2,204 square foot building.
   Zimmerman said the city and Friends of Youth are also asking the community for donations of items such as computers, games and/or large furniture. Those wishing to donate should notify Dianne Nelson at (425) 788-1185 and be willing to send a picture of the item.
   Zimmerman said volunteer technical help with server and game expertise is needed.
   "We don't have a person yet to provide that techie kind of stuff," she said. "Also, we are looking for community participation to assist with programs on an occasional or ongoing basis."
   For more information, contact Friends of Youth at (425) 869-6490 or Nelson at (425) 788-1185. A link will also be available in the near future at www.friendsofyouth.org.
  
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