Hope is not cancelled. That’s what kids at Boys & Girls Clubs of King County wanted their neighbors to know when they made and hung a sign outside their Wallingford Club — one of 18 Clubs still open in the Greater Seattle area to support kids whose parents are working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis.
Their message is more than just words. Hope is in action every day as Clubs quickly shift from providing after-school programming to full-time care for children whose caregivers are first responders, health care professionals
and employees working in essential services like grocery stores, gas stations and banks.
“We’re caring for hundreds of kids every day who wouldn’t have had a way to stay safe or continue learning while their parents do the essential work that keeps our community going,” said Jayme Hommer, chief development officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County. “Without the Clubs, there would be a big empty space for families that are so important for our community.”
Once packed with kids, the gymnasium at the Wallingford Club allows just nine children to be together at a time today, spaced out on carefully sanitized mats more than six feet apart.
“Making sure our Clubs are safe, healthy places for our kids and staff to come each day is our top priority,” said Laurie Black, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of King County. “Rather than allowing parents to drop their kids off inside the Clubs, we meet the kids at the curbside and take their temperature before bringing them in. We also take the temperature of each staff member as well.”
Following guidelines from state and local officials, open King County Clubs limit their attendance to just 50 kids per facility, with a focus on elementary school-aged children whose parents have no other options for caring for kids. While up to 20 kids may have previously shared the same space, small groups of nine children and one staff member now rotate from area to area, maintaining social distancing requirements and allowing staff to completely disinfect books, toys and other materials upon moving to the next space. Kids are also wearing fabric masks donated from the community.
“Even though everything looks different right now, the kids are safe and having fun,” said Meghan Sweet, a former Club kid who has worked for the Boys & Girls Clubs for 20 years and now serves as area director for eight Clubs in King County. “The parents tell us every day how grateful they are that we’re still open.”
While the experience has temporarily changed for kids, the resiliency and determination that define Boys & Girls Clubs across the country has never been stronger.
“Knowing that we’re part of something so important and so much bigger than our individual daily life is a blessing,” Jayme said. “We can't control what's happening in the rest of the world, but we can do every single thing possible today to make sure that the kids and families who need us, have us."
Boys & Girls Clubs across the country are doing whatever it takes to help Club kids and families who need us — from supporting families working on the frontlines and providing much-needed food
to offering online learning resources
. Please make a gift today to help kids and families through this crisis. 100% of donations aid in COVID relief and recovery.
Boys & Girls Clubs of King County is one of many Clubs across the nation that has adapted its services for families during prolonged school closures, job disruptions and food shortages. Clubs are working with government officials, emergency management, city health experts and school systems to maintain a safe environment during this uncertain time. Boys & Girls Clubs are following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local health departments to ensure a safe and healthy environment for youth.