The reception area at the HOPE Center is packed with visitors during the grand opening Thursday, Sept. 6, 2007
The first of what is destined to be numerous HOPE Centers was formally dedicated Thursday afternoon, Sept. 6, before a capacity crowd of several hundred in the new Boys & Girls Club building in Lakewood.
The Club, as it is known to boys and girls and by the signs on the outside of the building, will be the after school home to hundreds of children and serve another portion of the community when kids are in school.
Members of the Lakeview Elementary Choir perform “God Bless America” admirably, led by Sharon Ehlers. (Photo by Ed Kane, Freelance Graphics)
Taking part in the opening session were Ray Schuler, executive board chairman of the South Puget Sound Boys & Girls Clubs; Brad Cheney, campaign chairman, Lakewood Mayor Claudia Thomas, Dr. AL Cohen, Clover Park School District superintendent and Jo Dee Owens, Lakeview Elementary School principal. The school and The Club are co-located on the same property and the school will use the guy and some other facilities.
Master of Ceremonies Tom Hosea, co-chair of the fundraising campaign, introduced Gary Yazwa, president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Club. Others taking part were Roxanne Spillett, president of the B&G Clubs of America.
In the closing stages of the dedication ceremony visitors watch a video of Carol Milgard, whose recent death saddened the community and left a void in the event. (Photo by Ed Kane, Freelance Graphics)
A highlight of the event was a Carol Milgard celebration video. Gary and Carol took the lead in financing The Club before both died. She explained that they were trying to find the right cause to support that could change the lives of children if the whole community would get behind the effort.
“I remember clearly my first visit to one of the Clubs, mainly because I wasn’t sure I even wanted to be there,” she wrote. “Wow, was I ever wrong! What an eye opener I got! I went to open the door and four children ran out the door going to the play field. Out came one, two, three and then the fourth little boy saw me. He came to a dead halt and looked at his friends and then at me and back and forth. Finally he stopped and held the door and said ‘Welcome to our Club.’
“If he only knew what an impression he made with that gesture. Gary and I had been talking for a year what we could do for kids. After the little boy and touring the club that day, I went home so excited and told Gary I knew exactly the program we should support. There began out love for the Boys & Girls Club.”
That love culminated Thursday in formally opening the door to the grand facility named for them.