When a local IKEA distribution center approached the Boys and Girls Club with the intention to help out in any way possible, the organization’s South Pierce County Director Erik Kramer thought something as small as a new couch could make a difference in his Lakewood Park branch. Located in Washington High School, the program had been operating out of an abandoned woodshop. This much-needed program had been open only a few months, and reached its enrollment capacity in only three days. “I thought something small from IKEA would help us out quite a bit,” Kramer said. “But, they came back to us with the idea to perform a full remodel for us, which turned out amazing. We needed a space where kids wanted to come and stay.”
For a week, volunteers from IKEA painted the walls, put furniture together and developed a comfortable, welcoming space. “Having a new space like this will pay dividends for us, because the kids need to see that they’re worth more than a used woodshop. This remodel tells them that the community believes in them.”
The Boys and Girls Club strives to reach youth in disadvantaged circumstances and help them become successful adults. The organization focuses on character, citizenship and academic success, along with the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.
Jacob Tuivaiave, a new graduate from Washington High School, is well on his way to a successful college career at Washington State University, but credits the organization with his ability to earn a football scholarship. “I wasn’t getting recruited for a long time, but the Boys and Girls Club helped me with my grades,” he said. “As my grades improved, more schools would come out to watch me. They definitely helped me earn that scholarship.”
Lilly Tavete, a junior at Washington High School, got involved in volunteering as a result of her involvement with the Boys and Girls Club, and is thrilled with the results of the renovation. “I’m so happy and shocked that everything came together here,” she said. “They did such a great job in a short amount of time – this place is completely transformed.”