History of the Northeast Youth Center
History of the Northeast Youth Center
The Northeast Youth Center was founded in 1971 for the purpose of providing at-risk youth with culturally enriching educational and recreational opportunities that build self-esteem and teach basic life skills. The organization originated in a church located at 2900 E. Olympic., Hillyard Washington. At this time the only funding provided came from the Community Action Council (War on Poverty) and the Omnibus Crime and Safe Street Act through the City of Spokane. These organizations realized there was a need to provide a safe place for the youth in the Hillyard Neighborhood.
By 1980 the Emergency Employment Act, The Comprehensive Employment & Training Act and the Neighborhood Youth Corps had begun to form. Many mothers left the house and went to work. The need for children to have a place to go after school had risen. The Spokane Parks Department became involved with the Youth Center to provide recreational activities for these youths, to give them a direction, occupy their time, and to keep them off drugs.
In those early years there was a lot of fund raising just to keep the church up to code. The emphasis was on teen programming. In order to complete their mission of fostering positive self-image development, the center realized how crucial it was to network with other youth servicing agencies. Garry Middle School became a home in 1981 and serves as a partner to this day. The school provided a gymnasium and rooms to separate the ages for individual development. This was the center's home until the opening of the Northeast Community Center in 1982. At this time, the Spokane Parks Department began to fully support the youth programs with the addition of a variety of recreational classes, sports leagues, and community special events.
Drop-in after school programs were being held in various elementary schools between 1980 and 1996. These programs were funded through Community Block Grants. The community had realized they needed to focus on pre-teens through educational and recreational programs to provide preventive measurers in lieu of juvenile delinquency.
During the 1990's the State Welfare System began their 'Welfare Back to Work Programs' forcing many mothers and fathers to get a job. Where were the children to go? Many were forced to take minimum wage jobs and were not able to pay for private day care. The Youth Center had gone through a change in their Directors. A Spokane Parks & Recreation Supervisor became the new Director. Kimbre Vega transferred from the Downtown Parks Department to run the Youth Center. Seeing a need for childcare, she shifted the focus to acquiring DSHS licensing while maintaining the recreational atmosphere. Instead of calling the Youth Center a 'Day Care' it became 'Before School Camp', 'After School Camp' 'AM KinderCamp 'and 'PM KinderCamp. There was also a tremendous need for summer care, and so the 'Summer Camps' program evolved. In the initial stages of development into a care facility, there were only approximately 14 children attending after school functions. With the new programs being offered the numbers rapidly increased. More staff was needed to provide activities. The word spread, soon college students were lined up to fill the need. The hours were ideal, Monday through Friday from 6:30 AM to 6:00 PM and no weekends. Most students could work four to six hours a day and catch up on homework on weekends. The City of Spokane provided vans to shuttle the children to school, pick them up, and take them on various field trips. The Youth Center applied for the USDA Food Program and began feeding the children breakfast and two snacks during the school year, during summer a lunch component was added. Today approximately 211 children pass through the Northeast Youth Center on a daily basis.
The need for more space became an obstacle several years ago, hence the rental of the Hillyard Baptist Church, just 8 blocks north, 2121 E Wabash, also known as the Northeast Youth Center II. The church provides a huge gymnasium, a kitchen, and several smaller rooms for groups categorized by age. The Youth Center currently partnerships with Arlington, Bemiss, Cooper, Longfellow, Logan, Regal, Stevens and Whitman Elementary Schools. We also provide a recreational program at the Westfall Village, a Slavic community one block to the south from the Community Center. Recently, we were asked to partner with Shaw Middle School and provide a new Satellite Program designed for 5th and 6th graders. Thanks to the Hillyard Steering Committee, Community Development and Shaw Middle School, the ASAP Program now exists. This is a 'Passport Program' servicing Bemiss, Cooper, Regal and St. Patricks schools Monday through Friday from 3:00 to 6:00 held at Shaw Middle School. The students may choose 'clubs' to participate in; Food Sense, Science Club, Study Club, Arts and Crafts, Diversity Singing, Strings, Computer Club, Fitness, Foreign Language, Drama, Studio 2B, Boys Club, Math in the World, and Sports clinics featuring Wrestling, Dodgeball, Cheerleading, Dance, Basketball, Volleyball and Soccer. PLUS, this Passport includes after school transportation, cool field trips every Friday, snacks, free admission at Open Gym every Tuesday and Friday nights held at Shaw, plus 50% off on evening sports clinics with the Northeast Youth Center. The cost is $45 per month.
The most recent partnership is the Crossroads Community Church, located at 2723 E Gordon. The Youth Center is running their teen program during the summer of 2006 in this facility. A USDA Food program is also provided for any children under the age of 19 that wish a breakfast or lunch.
The Spokane Parks Department still remains a strong partner today. With their help we are able to offer evening sports programs such as youth wrestling, basketball, indoor soccer, volleyball, Tae-Kwon-Do for all ages, Cheerleading, Tumbling for Tots ages 5-6 and Tumbling II for ages 7-8. These programs are listed in the Recreation Activity Guides the Parks Department publishes. They also help us promote some of our Specialty events such as our 'Beyond Pink Barbie Party' for little girls ages 4-7, the 'Superheroes Adventure Party', 'Princess Night' and 'Scooby Doo Night' as well as the 'Flashlight Easter Egg Hunt' held at Hays Park. Through our partnerships we are able to offer a reduced rate for activities through the YMCA, being careful not to duplicate efforts but to enhance the programs we all provide.
Presently eighty three percent of the children attending our programs come from single parent families; ninety one percent of our children qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch programs offered at their schools. DSHS helps those families that qualify by paying a set amount daily allowing the parent to pay a co-payment that is affordable. We serve the lowest income area in the state of Washington and are the second in the nation for hunger. The projected 2005 population of Spokane County is 436,300 of which 20.2% are at or under the age of 15. Out of 47 schools in the area we service 12. We have calculated that we serve approximately 20% of the children of Spokane County. The Northeast Youth Center acts as a resource to families and a safe place for children ages 5-15.
During 2003, the Northeast Youth Center Non-Profit Organization was formed. This would enable the Organization to apply for donations and funding from various sources. The Board of Directors was comprised mainly of parents and grandparents whose children were attending the Youth Center programs. The first year was a learning phase with several staff positions being vacated and replaced, while new positions formed. The Youth Center has gone through a major shift. Today there are 10 Board of Directors that are truly invested in the future of the Youth Center. We are focusing on the growth and safety of the children we serve. Our goals have remained the same; to provide at-risk youth with culturally enriching educational and recreational opportunities that build self-esteem and teach basic life skills, we are committed to creating partnerships with community groups and organizations to enhance life skills, character values, sportsmanship, and competitive play for all youth.
Our employees are primarily college students or new graduates in the fields of Childhood Development, Psychology, Education, Sociology and/or Recreation Majors. Currently, the school year employees consist of 27 with 17 Recreational Leaders, 4 Aids, 2 Open Gym staff, one USDA Food/Van coordinator, and 3 Shaw Satellite Leaders. Our Administrative staff employs an Office Manager, Office Assistant, Program Accounts Manager, Program Manager, Development Coordinator and an Executive Director. When possible we use as many volunteers as we can. Our employee turnover rate is minimal with most staff serving 2 - 9 years.
or Download PDF Form