By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News
During the mass uncertainty of 2020, the annual auction to benefit our Tulalip Boys & Girls Club was forced to the digital landscape. An all-virtual setup was deemed necessary at the time, but proceeds collected were not up to usual auction standards. As a result, event coordinators were determined to see the return of an in-person auction at the Tulalip Resort’s orca ballroom. Months of planning led to a truly memorable evening, highlighted by a tangible spirit of generosity.
Dubbed ‘Together Again with Friends’, the 23rd annual Tulalip Boys & Girls Club auction occurred in elegant fashion with nearly 500 guests creating widespread enthusiasm while bidding on a number of one-of-a-kind items, tribal artwork, vacation packages, and sports memorabilia. The fundraising filled evening was all about giving donors and community partners an opportunity to take action for the benefit of local youth, while supporting the Tribe’s reservation based Boys and Girls Club.
“This evening’s auction was our largest fundraising event of the year. Your generous donations helped us achieve our goal to fund vital programs and services that improve the lives of youth in the Tulalip area,” stated Matt Monty, auction committee chairman. “[We’re] charged with deepening our impact on the young people we serve. These fundamental elements drive all of our efforts to have a lasting impact on youth.”
‘The Club’, as it’s affectionately been nicknamed by hundreds of regularly attending children, is a safe place where kids can just be kids. While there, children are routinely exposed to healthy food choices, create an abundance of happy memories, and make relationships that last a lifetime.
The Club is the first of its kind to be built on tribal land in Washington State. Established in 1995, 2021 marks twenty-six years of commitment to the community. Through before and after school programs, it aims to help young people improve their lives by building self-esteem, developing values, and teaching skills during critical periods of growth.
Serving as a model for those working to improve the lives of young people in the surrounding communities, the Club is the primary beneficiary of the annual fundraising auction. With each auction building off the success of previous years, the Club has not only been able to sustain services, but to complete much needed campus expansions that add additional learning and activity space.
Funds raised from the annual actions are dedicated for capital improvement, not operating costs. Previous auction funds have paid for a state-of-the-art music studio, a multi-media room with twenty-plus computers, several transportation vehicles, roof repairs, upgraded kitchen equipment, and most recently a 4,000-square-footextension to better accommodate an ever-growing teenager membership. This teen center became invaluable during the past 18-months. In such a tumultuous time, local teenagers were able to depend on access to the tech-driven teen center to meet their social developing needs.
“It’s so funny looking back because I didn’t realize how much the Club meant to me as a kid, but really it was everything,” said Boys and Girls Club Director, Shawn Sanchey. The Tulalip tribal member has come full circle after he himself grew up a Club kid and now manages the same facility so many kids depend on every day. “It’s amazing being able to witness these kids learn and grow in the same way staff once did for me. Some of my earliest memories are of Grandma Diane offering guidance in her own special way. And two decades later, she’s still here and still knows the name of every kid who comes in routinely. It really is unique how dedicated people are to the youth in our community. It goes hand-in-hand with our mission to let our kids know we care about them and we care about their future.”
Of the 491 generous individuals who attended this year’s fundraising event, most have never been to Tulalip’s Boys & Girls Club, yet their passion for making a difference for our kids is heartfelt. The uplifting faces of Club kids ever-present on table centerpieces and projected onto screens bordering the ballroom, and those teenagers who volunteered to work the auction and help generate support by sharing their stories only aided in deepening the connection with auction attendees.
Shortly after the auction ended, event coordinators shared some delightful fundraising numbers. Exactly $51,500 was raised for Kids Kafé, which is an essential part of the Club’s services. Kids Kafé addresses the very basic fact that often the meals provided to club members are the most nutritious part of their daily diet. An impressive stat worth knowing is Kids Kafé served 6,400 meals per week and a whopping 230,400 meals over the past year.
In total, over $350,000 was raised between the silent and live auctions, including the enormous amount of support for Kids Kafé. There were so many generous contributors who played a critical role in making the 23rd annual auction possible.
“The auction is really about building relationships with the community and continuing to build upon the strong foundation of support we have with the Tulalip Tribes, Snohomish County, and Tulalip Resort Casino,” explained Terry Freeman, assistant director of development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County. “For twenty plus years now, our goal has remained the same – to create more and more partnerships off the reservation to achieve our goals on reservation. Thanks to our collaborative leadership teams, we continue to meet and exceed this goal.”
Thanks in large part to everyone who contributed and gave generously, the 23rd annual action was a major success. The generosity and heartfelt support received each year from sponsors and volunteers is overwhelming. As in years past, the funds raised from the auction will ensure Tulalip’s Club continues to provide and improve upon quality programs in a fun, safe and positive environment for our kids.