Tulalip Boys and Girls Club teaches life fundamentals through basketball

By Kalvin Valdillez. Tulalip News 

“I always tell the kids, the number one thing you should do while you’re on the court is have fun,” expresses Tulalip Boys and Girls Club Athletic Director, JP Miranda. Currently in mid-season, the Boys and Girls Club athletic program is teaching the Tulalip youth the fundamentals of basketball. The Tulalip club participates in an eight-week long basketball season in which they compete in weekly games against nearby Boys and Girls Clubs such as Arlington, Granite Falls, Everett and Mukilteo.

The Tulalip league consists of eleven teams starting with a co-ed kindergarten team. With the exception of the kindergarten squad, every team is based on which grade the child is in. The teams begin with students who are in the first and second grade, a boys’ team and a girls’ team respectfully, and range all the way up to seventh and eighth grade teams. Due to popularity, there were enough participants this year for an additional team of boys first and second grade students as well as boys third and fourth graders.

“Kids are going through a lot, not just home and family, but at school. Bullying is a big issue right now,” says JP. “All children crave the most is support from their parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents. Right now there is a decline in sports for boys and girls, that cut off in participation is around fourth and sixth grade due to either a poor coaching experience or lack of support. But on the other side of that, some kids who play select sports are getting burned out and stop participating because they feel they didn’t have the time to just be kids. Also technology, phones, laptops, game consoles are really taking a lot away from their participation. When kids come into the gym and are looking at their phones I tell them to grab a basketball and start dribbling.”

Throughout the season the little ballers learn the basics of basketball. While the younger kids learn essential knowledge and skills such as shooting, passing, dribbling and rebounding, the older kids work on plays, footwork, screens and cuts. All the kids however, learn the importance of defense, communication and accountability by learning how to play as a team.

“It’s the fundamentals they have to know, even in the NBA they still practice the fundamentals,” states JP. “The biggest fundamental I stress is dribbling. If you’re not able to dribble, you’re not able to get the ball down the court the right way; you’re not going to be able to get set up, pass or shoot.

“The more you practice, the better you get,” he continues. “I like watching them grow and watching them excel on a team and realizing that being part of a team is fun. You have to be able to work as a team to get anywhere.

JP states that although attendance during home games is great, the kids would greatly appreciate more support at away games.

“Any volunteers are always helpful,” he expresses. “It’s amazing to see a child when one of their relatives comes in to volunteer. You hear the excitement when they introduce them, it seriously brightens up that child’s day. And it’s amazing to see a kid who’s out on the court and sees their aunt or uncle on the sideline, they start to play harder cause they know they’re there to watch them. I tell them all the time, when you’re out there on the court remember who you are, where you come from and what your family name means to you because that’s who you represent. You represent yourself, your culture, your tribe, your Native American background and you represent your family. Be proud of who you are and don’t act a fool on the court.”

For more information and to find out how to become a volunteer, please contact the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club at (360) 651-3400.

Tulalip students learn, discover and invent at STEM Week

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalipo News

Tulalip Summer School students spent the week of August 7-11, creating robots at Tulalip Homework Support, located behind the Boys and Girls Club. Students, kindergarten through twelfth grade, participated in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Week in which they used Legos and laptops to build and program robots.

The Summer School partnered with Matthew and Kathy Collier, founders of the Robotics.How.com website, to bring the hands-on STEM experience to the Tulalip community, teaching the youth about coding through the use of Lego Mindstorms Robots.

“We’ve been working with the Lego Mindstorms Robots for nineteen years,” Kathy explains. “We have a variety of Lego Robotics education products and software. The youngest students are using what is called WeDo Lego Robots and they are actually programming tiny little Lego critters to dance, sing, flap and do all kinds of things. We have a monkey that drums, we have a giant that lifts himself from sleeping, so through the week they do different projects. What’s wonderful about the program is they are actually coding.  The same coding a software engineer does on a big scale, on a much smaller scale. Each one of those children is building a little software program. The third through fifth graders are using what’s called the NXT Lego Mindstorms Robots and sixth grade and above are using the EV3 Lego Mindstorms.

“There are colleges such as MIT that use the Lego Mindstorm Robots to do different demonstrations. These are sophisticated robots,” she continues. “The kids are learning not only to design and build ideas, they’re learning to program. By the end of the week, all of these children will understand what many adults don’t, how to program a robot to dance, move and say things. The emphasis for STEM Week is discovery. Learn by discovery, learn by inventing, and learn engineering by doing, testing, trial and error; and we use a lot of Legos to do that.”

The kids were instantly intrigued and listened both excitedly and attentively to instructions before assembling their robots. Throughout the week, the fourth through twelfth grade students work in teams of two to fine-tune their bots. Students, sixth grade and older, are utilizing a new technology to control their machines with their minds. Without prior programing or the use of controllers, the students operate their Lego Robots by wearing a brainwave reader. The younger students spend their week creating new robots and projects each day.

“I think that robot camp is a fun place to think about robots,” states Summer School Student, Jordan Bontempo. “My favorite thing I did was playing with my robot, I like experimenting with it.”

Fellow classmate, Alo Williams added, “Its fun and I really like to learn here. I like that we get to build and program robots.”

Due to the program’s popularity and interest, the Tulalip Education Department intends to start a Lego Robotics team, comprised of teens from the community, to construct robots to perform in local competitions.

“To get these kids, especially the teenagers, to buy into this and not say ‘oh, this is boring’ is amazing. We haven’t had to push them once to participate, they want to do this,” says Homework Support Teacher Seiya Kitchens. “We’re trying to get a team together to represent Tulalip.  The kids will be able to win awards and get to travel. I think there are a lot of kids that will benefit from STEM Week. Nowadays kids use more technology, so I think a program like this will reach more kids because it’s a transition from pen and paperwork to this.”

STEM Week provides a fun foundation for the children who wish to pursue a career in any of the four fields.

“This is such a techy age, kids are exposed to so much more,” Kathy states. “If these young minds start to show a hint of potential, we can start steering them towards thoughts that inspire engineering ideas. We give them the tools and let them learn and experiment. This is not about following a set of building instructions, we are turning them loose to explore, invent and create.”

For additional details please contact the Tulalip Homework Support Program at (360) 716-4646.

Safety fair benefits kids from Boys and Girls Club

Snohomish County Fire District 15 firemen thrilled the kids with blasting firehoses. Photo/Micheal Rios

Snohomish County Fire District 15 firemen thrilled the kids with blasting firehoses.
Photo/Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 


BG Fair-Front

Photo/Micheal Rios, Tulalip News


by Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Hundreds of kids from the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club learned how to be prepared for emergencies at a health and safety fair held on Friday, November 13. The day of fun-filled, educational activities was in response to a large wind storm that knocked power out in major parts of the Tulalip Reservation only weeks ago.

The fair included services and education from various departments within the Tribes’ network, including the Health Clinic, Police Department, and Youth Services.

The theme behind this year’s safety fair was to have children and their parents prepare for emergencies with educational fun for the whole family.

The Red Cross was on hand to oversee their ‘pillowcase project’, where kids ages 3 and up receive a pillowcase to build their own personal emergency supplies kit. Kids 5 and up were taught compression CPR by a professional team who provided video tutorials and hands-on learning tools for the youth.


Kids learning compression CPR. Photo/Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Kids learning compression CPR.
Photo/Micheal Rios, Tulalip News


Washington Poison Center representatives were on-hand with their Mr. Yuk mascot and resources. They provided information about poisonings and toxic substances to the children by way of a spin the wheel game. For each spin of the wheel, a child would be asked whether a certain item was poisonous or not if digested/inhaled, and prizes were awarded for correct answers. For incorrect answers, the Mr. Yuk representative would explain to the child how the item was poisonous and potential effects if digested/inhaled.

Highlighting the safety fair was the presence of Snohomish County Fire District 15. Children lined up by the scores to meet the firemen, sit in the firetruck and use the fire hose to blast water at safety cones.


Washington Poison Center representatives taught kids about about poisonings and toxic substances using a wheel spinning game. Photo/Micheal Rios

Washington Poison Center representatives taught kids about about poisonings and toxic substances using a wheel spinning game.
Photo/Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 


“It’s important for the kids to hear it come from people besides us,” says B&GC administrative assistant Diane Prouty on the importance of the safety fair. “We want them to hear it from the professionals, so that they know what we say is true. And that they listen when we talk to them about the different kinds of safety, whether it be bus safety or fire safety. We just want to make sure that all children in our community are safe and that they have the opportunity to learn it right here at the club.”


Photo/Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Photo/Micheal Rios, Tulalip News



Contact Micheal Rios, mrios@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

Record amounts raised at Boys & Girls Club Auction

Sheldon family women flaunt their hand-made Boys & Girls Club necklace keepsake. Photo/Micheal Rios

Sheldon family women flaunt their hand-made Boys & Girls Club necklace keepsakes.
Photo/Micheal Rios


by Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

On the evening of Saturday, May 9 the Tulalip Resort Casino’s Orca ballroom was the location for the 17th Annual Tulalip Boys and Girls Club “It’s for the Kids” Auction fundraising event. The ballroom was elaborately designed like never before with a tiered seating arrangement for the record high 650 guests who attended. This year’s theme was in true 12th Man fashion as it was devoted to the Seahawks and prevalent in all visual aspects, from the vivid navy blue and action green colored table dressings and centerpieces to the accent lighting.

The Tulalip Boys & Girls Club is the first club of its kind to be built on tribal land in Washington. Established in 1995, 2015 marks twenty years of commitment to the community.

The Club serves as a model for those working to improve the lives of young people in surrounding communities.

With the success of previous auctions, the Club has not only been able to sustain services, but to likewise complete needed campus expansions that added additional learning space. This included spaces like 2014’s all new Computer Learning Center with state-of-the-art technology allowing our kids to stay on par with the area’s best schools when it comes to computer technology.

While auction attendees enjoyed the great food, great friends and the great auction items available, they were continually reminded of the hundreds of children who’ll benefit from the night’s proceeds. Video montages depicting Club members, staff, and events were played throughout the evening. A very touching video dedicated to Diane Prouty, or as the kids call her “Grandma Diane”, was shown right before she took the stage to speak on the importance of Tulalip’s Kid’s Café. Through Kids Café, the Club provides healthy, filling, hot snacks and meals to kids after school. Many of the kids who participate in Kids Café would not have an afternoon snack or dinner without the Club.

Auction participants showed their generous support by donating a record high $40,945 to Kids Café. That proved to be just the beginning. By the end of the night, the auction had also raised a new record for total proceedings, amassing over $300,000 that will benefit and support the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club.

On behalf of the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club, the Tulalip Tribes thanks everyone who contributed to the success of the 17th annual auction. The outpouring of support received each year from sponsors and volunteers is quite overwhelming. As in years past, the funds raised from the auction will ensure that our club not only continues to provide, but improves upon, quality programs in a fun, safe and positive environment for the children who attend throughout 2015 and early 2016.

For tribes, generosity is tradition

Ian Terry / The HeraldLeno Vela (center), 11, talks with JJ Gray (right), 5, at the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club.

Ian Terry / The Herald
Leno Vela (center), 11, talks with JJ Gray (right), 5, at the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club.


By: Chris Winters, The Herald


TULALIP — Chuck Thacker was working as the principal of Quil Ceda and Tulalip Elementary School when he was approached about starting a Boys and Girls Club on the reservation of the Tulalip Tribes.

The tribes, Thacker and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Snohomish County all saw the need for a safe after-school program targeted at tribal youth. Thacker would contribute his leadership and experience working with kids, Boys and Girls Clubs of Snohomish County would provide the model, and the tribes would provide the startup money and location, as well as the kids.

The Tulalip Boys and Girls Club opened in 1996, the first club located on an Indian reservation in Washington and one of the first in the United States. The Tulalip Tribes continue to support the club financially to this day.

Charitable contributions by tribes have become more visible in an era in which some tribes have become financially successful in their business undertakings. But giving has always been a part of Native American culture, even before the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act created a national legal framework in which tribes could operate casinos on their reservations.

In Washington state, tribes such as the Tulalips who run casinos are required to donate a certain percentage of the proceeds to charity. But the tribe routinely exceeds that amount, and even tribes without significant income give back to their communities.

“This rule is not new to Indian Country, as it has now been formalized,” said Marilyn Sheldon, who oversees the Tulalip Charitable Fund.

“We’ve always been givers,” she said.


Ian Terry / the heraldFrom left, Georgetta Reeves, 8; Ladainian Kicking-Woman, 6; Tristan Holmes, 11; and Isaiah Holmes, 6, hang out together in the gym at the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club.

Ian Terry / the herald
From left, Georgetta Reeves, 8; Ladainian Kicking-Woman, 6; Tristan Holmes, 11; and Isaiah Holmes, 6, hang out together in the gym at the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club.


The Tulalip Tribes

When Chuck Thacker sat down with Terry Freeman of the county Boys and Girls Clubs and Stan Jones, the former chairman of the Tulalip Tribes, they outlined a vision for the new club: It had to address needs of both the tribe and the surrounding community.

The goal was to create a safe after-school program that would accept both native and non-native kids; provide reading programs, other educational activities and sports activities; and remain open as many hours as possible. Most important, it would also provide a meal program.

Thacker recalled what Jones told him: “Feed our kids good, because a lot of them don’t get a good meal at home.”

The Tulalip Tribes backed up its support with financial assistance, and has provided the club with financial support every year since, allowing tribal kids to come to the club free of charge even while it has gradually expanded its services to include arts programs and a technology center.

The meal program now serves three meals a day to up to 250 youths.


Ian Terry / The HeraldDuring a Pacific Science Center demonstration at the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club, Ashton Rude, 9, looks through animal furs and tries to identify them.

Ian Terry / The Herald
During a Pacific Science Center demonstration at the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club, Ashton Rude, 9, looks through animal furs and tries to identify them.


Thacker, who has directed the club since its inception, said “99 percent of them come in for activities, and they know the food’s going to be there.”

The Tulalip Boys and Girls Club is just one organization that’s been on the receiving end of the tribes’ charitable giving.

Since 1993, shortly after the Tulalip Tribes opened its first casino, charitable giving from the Tulalips has risen from $273,000 then to $6.9 million in 2013.

In the first half of 2014, the Tulalip Tribes has given more than 160 grants to nonprofit organizations, groups or programs both on and off the reservation. They include community groups, the Boys and Girls Clubs, arts organizations, environmental groups, educational programs and specific events, such as the tribe’s annual Spee-Bi-Dah celebration and parade and an emergency grant of $150,000 to the Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation and the American Red Cross to help victims of the Oso mudslide.

Marilyn Sheldon recalled that when she was growing up, her own mother and other tribal women in the ladies clubs would support their community with various fundraisers.

Tribal giving has been formalized since then, but it still draws on tradition. During the tribe’s annual Raising Hands gala, all attendees receive gifts as a way of honoring them. Children at the Montessori school also spread the table at the end of each year, Sheldon said, and gifts are traditionally given at funerals.

“That’s part of the healing of the family, to put all that love and energy into giving,” Sheldon said.

Since the Tulalip Resort Casino opened in 1992, a portion of all profits has been donated to charity.

Agreements between the tribe and Washington state set a minimum percentage of proceeds that must be given to charity, but the Tulalips now regularly exceed that baseline, said Martin Napeahi, the general manager of Quil Ceda Village, the Tulalip Tribes’ business and development arm.

In 1993, the Tulalips donated $273,000 to charitable causes. That rose to $6.9 million in 2013, the 20th year in which the Tulalip Charitable Fund has operated.

A committee weighs grant applications, but the members are all anonymous. Each serves for a two-year term and oversees one subsection of the grant requests — for example, natural resources, education, arts or social services.

Then, at the end of every quarter, the committee members switch assignments, so no one member evaluates the same subset of applications.

“That way it adds to the fairness of deciding who gets funding,” Sheldon said.

In the end, the tribes’ board of directors reviews the committee’s recommendation and decides which applications are funded and to what extent.

The fall Raising Hands gala is not just a celebratory event, but an opportunity to create more lasting bonds within the larger community.

Dignitaries and community leaders are invited to mix and mingle with the recipients of the tribes’ giving.

“The beauty of putting that together is you can put other groups together at the same table,” Sheldon said.

That, coupled with presentations honoring the work the various grant recipients do, turns the gala into a educational event as well, which creates connections among the disparate groups and may lead to future collaboration.

“We are doing the best we can to make a difference in our communities,” Sheldon said.


The Stillaguamish Tribe

The Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians has seen marked economic growth in the last decade.

When its Angel of the Winds Casino and Hotel opened in 2004, the tribe’s charitable giving evolved from a more casual undertaking to a formalized system.

“Prior to the casino we didn’t have a whole lot of money to give,” said Eric White, vice chairman of the Stillaguamish tribe.

“In fact, we were the ones out there asking for help,” he said.

Since instituting a formal giving program, the Stillaguamish convene a committee of tribal members and employees to evaluate grant requests.

The Stillaguamish gave $800,000 in donations during the tribe’s last fiscal year, which ended in October 2013, White said

So far this year, the Stillaguamish have donated about $1.9 million, with some of the larger recipients being relief agencies working in the aftermath of the mudslide. But recipients also have included community organizations, such as a $300,000 gift to local food banks that the tribe made before Christmas in response to an acute need.

“Basically our main mission would be to help the folks who are in need,” White said.

The Stillaguamish also make charitable donations to environmental organizations, animal rehabilitation services, recreation and health care, especially to the American Cancer Society, which White said the Stillaguamish has long supported.


The Sauk-Suiattle Tribe

Tucked up in the mountains near Darrington, the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe doesn’t have a casino, other large business enterprises or even easy access to the sea for fishing.

The tribe derives its revenue from running the gas station in Darrington and a smoke shop on its reservation, and from leasing its gambling licenses to other tribes that do operate casinos.

Nonetheless, the Sauk-Suiattle tribe makes a point of contributing to the community.

“We do, on a yearly basis, take $30,000, sometimes $40,000 if we have extra, and make small grants to the city of Darrington,” said Ronda Metcalf, the tribe’s general manager.

Beneficiaries include the local senior center, the grange, the school and some programs through the pharmacy to help people pay for medication.

“We’re not obligated to do that, but it’s something the tribe felt would be a good way to build community with the city,” Metcalf said.

When the Oso mudslide cut Darrington off from the rest of the county, Sauk-Suiattle members came together and donated about $5,000 to families affected by the slide, and then came to the Darrington Community Center to lay out a blanket in a traditional form of fundraising, bringing in about $1,100 more on the spot.

A committee looks at requests and decides where the need is greatest. If there are many needy causes, the tribe tries to give out something to most of them, Metcalf said.

“Tribes have been doing that for a long time, it’s part of who they are,” Metcalf said.

Coming soon

This story is part of Snohomish County Gives, a special section highlighting the spirit of philanthropy in the county. Look for more stories on HeraldNet throughout the week and the full section in the print edition of The Herald on Sunday, Aug. 31.

Bridging community and education

Dr. Berg welcomes students back to school during tour of the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club

By Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

TULALIP – “Our club!” the children exclaimed as they greeted Dr. Becky Berg, Superintendent of the Marysville School District. Dr. Berg’s visit to the club was part of a back to school kick off on Tuesday, August 19.

Marysville School District Superintendent Dr. Becky Berg receives a drum as thanks for her visit to the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club. Lois Henry shared a story as well.

Marysville School District Superintendent Dr. Becky Berg receives a drum as thanks for her visit to the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club. Lois Henry shared a story as well. Photo/ Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

“We have been working all summer to make sure our schools are ready for you all,” Dr. Berg said. “We are all very excited to see you back at school in two weeks.”

Dr. Berg’s tour of the club is part of an effort to create an afterschool community that encourages educational success. Statistics show that students who attend Boys and Girls Clubs perform better in all areas of learning.

“These numbers from the Arlington School District compare Boys and Girls Club kids and kids that don’t come to the club,” said Bill Tsoukalas, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Snohomish County. “At fourth, fifth, and sixth grade, you see a constant trend across reading, math and science where club kids score much higher.”

Dr. Becky Berg looking at student data from the Arlington School District with Snohomish County Boys and Girls Clubs Executive Director, Bill Tsoukalas. The data shows that Boys and Girls Club kids consistently perform much higher that non-club kids.

Dr. Becky Berg looking at student data from the Arlington School District with Snohomish County Boys and Girls Clubs Executive Director, Bill Tsoukalas. The data shows that Boys and Girls Club kids consistently perform much higher that non-club kids. Photo/ Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

Excited by the data from Arlington, Dr. Berg intends to look at similar demographics for Tulalip students in Marysville schools to see if there is a similar trend. Tsoukalas and Tulalip Boys and Girls Club Director, Chuck Thacker, believe there is.

Thacker said, “We see so much improvement in our kids. We bring them into a different environment, providing support for the kids.”

“This is their club,” he continued, “you heard them say it. You will notice that the walls are not drawn on and marked up, trash is picked up. They take pride in their club, and that’s what makes it successful.”

That way of thinking was instilled in Boys and Girls Club kids more than seven years ago by Don “Penoke” Hatch, long time supporter for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Snohomish County.

“Kids come here to have fun and to be in a safe place afterschool. But we also want them to learn while they’re here,” Tsoukalas added.

The tour moved into the computer lab as Dr. Berg was shown all of the resources available to children at the club. The newly-renovated lab is complete with brand new computers, two main monitors, and a smart-screen for interactive teaching.

“This is all state of the art. We want to be up and ready, fully functional for the open house in a few weeks,” Tsoukalas proudly explained. “We’ve invited both of our senators, Cantwell being a huge proponent of programs like ours.”

Hatch said, “I think the tribe ought to be proud of what they’ve got here, what they’re doing here for our kids.”

Dr. Berg was thanked for her visit to the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club, and was presented with a special gift, a traditional hand drum with original artwork by Heritage High School senior Ayrik Miranda, who is employed with the club through the summer.