The Madras and Warm Springs branches of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Oregon have hired two seasoned youth development professionals to lead the Clubs in Madras and Warm Springs.
Both center directors, Alison Tramel at the Madras Club and June Smith at the Warm Springs Club, were raised in Central Oregon and have come back to put their experience to use in the local communities.
Tramel, who was recently hired, was raised in Fossil and is a graduate of Burns High School. After receiving her bachelor of arts degree in social sciences with an emphasis in psychology from Marylhurst University in Portland, she began working with the communities of Portland and North Bend, Ore. In Portland, she mentored at-risk youth through Volunteers of America.
After moving to Madras, Tramel and her mother co-owned a business for two years where they worked with developmentally disabled adults in an adult foster care environment.
In both situations, Tramel learned to develop and implement plans that enabled her clients to function at the highest level of independence possible.
Pursuing fluency in Spanish, Tramel will bridge the gap at the club for many Madras youth who are struggling to find their future.
"There are a lot of exciting things happening at the Madras Boys & Girls Clubs," said Tramel. "I look forward to utilizing my strengths as a manager, my love for working with children and families, and my interest in being an active part of a rural community."
To better learn Spanish, Tramel spent the month of May living with a Mexican family she had met while on vacation in Mazatlan. While there, she also attended Spanish immersion classes seven-days-a-week. Following that experience she said, "I was really looking for a job like this."
"Alison's love of Hispanic culture was evident in everything she does," said Gwynn Reis, North Area director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Oregon.
"She brings both a strong business background and social service experience to the Madras Club. She will be an asset to our BGCCO Leadership Team," Reis said.
Tramel's plans for the Madras club include pumping up the teen program from its current membership of 20 to 60 members.
During the month of December, the Madras club is holding a free membership drive. Kids ages 8 to 18 can join for free, and the membership is good for the whole year.
The club is open Monday through Friday, from 3:15 to 6:30 p.m., and also during Christmas vacation.
Smith, who has been leading the Warm Springs Club since May, has turned the club into a thriving part of that community.
Born and raised on the Warm Springs Reservation, Smith knows the issues her club members are facing and has earned the respect of the youth in the club, Reis said.
"We give kids a different experience and opportunities to see there are different things to do after school besides just going home or hanging out with friends," Smith said.
Before joining the Warm Springs Club, Smith was a family interventionist with the Tribes' Early Head Start Program. In this capacity, she helped the youngest members of the Warm Springs community get a jump on life by providing help to their families.
Smith earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Kansas in the field of human development and family life.
"June is a definite asset to our Warm Springs team," said Reis. "She works well with the Branch Advisory Council and the kids. She's definitely providing a positive role model for the youth of Warm Springs."
Now located in a mobile home next to Warm Springs Elementary, the Warm Springs club currently has 140 members, with a daily average attendance of 45 to 50 kids. The school offers the use of the principal's office for Club Tech (computer classes), the P.E. modular unit for games and the library for Power Hour (homework help). The club is open 3:15 to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The club offers a 10-week prevention program for kids ages 6 to 10, which covers drug and alcohol prevention, safety issues at home and with strangers, and positive and negative behavior. The lessons are taught through games and projects.
The Warm Springs club has received a $45,000 federal grant to implement diabetes education for children ages 8 to 10, since diabetes is particularly high among tribal populations.
"It has a playbook with games and movement activities to keep kids active and get off the couch and away from the TV," Smith said.
A special staff person will be hired just for that program, and NIKE is partnering on the project by providing T-shirts, water bottles and other incentives for participating kids.
Both Tramel and Smith are directing clubs that are rapidly rebuilding both their program offerings and membership. Club programs are carefully designed to develop character and life-enhancing skills. When youth leave the clubs at age 18, they will have:
. A positive self-identity.
. Scholastic, career, social, emotional and cultural competencies.
. A desire to remain involved in their community.
. Health and well-being.
. A moral compass.
More than 25 national programs are available in the areas of education, the environment, health, the arts, careers, alcohol/drug and pregnancy prevention, gang prevention, leadership development and athletics.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Oregon operates nine locations, of which Madras and Warm Springs are two. The clubs serve over 10,000 young people throughout the three-county region.
They provide guidance-oriented programs on a daily basis for children 6-18 years old, conducted by a full-time professional staff. The goal of the clubs is to enhance the quality of life for all kids by creating a positive, supportive environment.
Key programs emphasize character and leadership development, educational enhancement, career preparation, health and life skills, the arts, sports, fitness and recreation. For the majority of its members, the clubs offer an organized after-school alternative.
For more information, call the Madras club at 475-7028, Warm Springs club at 553-3161 or visit bgcco.org.