For the last quarter of a century the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula have held a community fun event and auction to raise funds to support their activities and to continue providing a safe place for kids to have fun, study and learn sports and sportsmanship. Over 400 people turned out for the Silver Anniversary event—a record attendance, according to the president of the Boys & Girls Club board of directors, Ryan Tunseth.
“Around the room tonight you see the type of broad-based community support we really have and it’s quite humbling. From our event sponsor Tesoro to the Norvilles giving us $10,000 to sponsor a side-by-side to Dave Shilling of the Uptown Motel sponsoring $10,000 in scholarships for our kids. From large businesses to small business and individuals it’s fantastic to see this kind of support for our clubs,” he said.
Past board president, former Soldotna mayor and now State Senator Peter Micciche was the auctioneer for the night.
“This is a very generous community and when it comes to the Boys & Girls Clubs we have a little friendly competition between Soldotna, Kenai and Nikiski, but everyone is here tonight to support their hometown clubs by supporting the organization as a whole, and this event has now spanned a quarter century. It’s my twentieth year, and I’ve seen it go from raising a couple thousand dollars to Ryan and Scott Griffith getting involved and taking it to the next level. This year it looks like we’ll net more than $140,000 for our clubs. The folks here are bidding very generously because they believe in our mission,” said Micciche.
Since its small beginnings of some 80 members in Soldotna to the eight clubs now on the Peninsula, from Homer to Seward, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula have continued to grow through economic recessions and resurgences because of the need for a positive place for kids to learn, grow and transition into adulthood.
“I attribute that to the community support you see here tonight. We lost a significant amount of federal funding that we had in the early years that helped us to expand, but when that went away, the communities stepped up and made up the differences so we could continue to provide opportunities for all kids, some who might not have a positive place. When the communities saw the outcome of these programs they wanted them to continue,” said Micciche.
Why do busy people step up to volunteer for such events?
“For me it’s a no-brainer. It’s a cause you can’t help but believe in, and when you see how it affects kids’ lives in a positive way you will always have all the time in the world,” said Tunseth.
Opportunities to support the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula are available 12 months a year.
“We thank all of our supporters for the generous donations they have given us throughout the year. Through their continued support, Boys & Girls Clubs are able to serve more kids and teens so they can grow and meet friends every day. Boys & Girls Clubs are a vital part of the community, and the community is an important part of our club. A gift to a Boys & Girls Club reflects the commitment to the young people in your neighborhood. It is a gift that keeps on giving all year long. This holiday season consider donating to Boys & Girls Clubs. With no concerns about colors, sizes or returns, it is the perfect gift and one that can help shape lives. It can add more meaning to the season,” said executive director Heather Schloeman. “That spirit was reflected tonight when Derek Leichliter won $2,200 in the split the pot and then donated it right back to the Boys & Girls Clubs.”
Funds are still needed to help open the new teen center in Soldotna and anyone interested can go online at www.positiveplaceforkids.com or call 283-2682.