Monroe Boys and Girls Club director Jeff Rasmussen wants folks to know that the club is a safe place for kids to hang out, and that it is affordable, stimulating and a ton of fun.

Since becoming the Boys and Girls Club director in December 2014, Jeff has made it his mission to reach out to the community and increase awareness about the availability and opportunities open to all kids in the Monroe area. He discovered a misconception many folks have — that the club is only for troubled youths or those interested in sports.

“The Monroe Boys and Girls Club is for all kids,” he said, “and there are a large variety of fun and enriching activities offered.”

From the cooking club and homework hour, to the computer lab, art projects, and the game room, the club provides supervised interaction and instruction before and after school. And during the summer there are several camps, weekly field trips and a range of entertaining and educational options, not to mention lunch and snacks.

Jeff came from a successful career in the banking and financial world. In his last position as manager of Washington Federal Savings in Monroe, he was responsible for the bank’s efforts to meet federal community service requirements, assisting the 15 offices in his district with giving back through local nonprofit organizations. He discovered not only a talent for this work, but also a sincere interest in community service. After long discussions with his wife, he decided to make a career change, and two years later was offered the position at the Boys and Girls Club.

Since accepting the role as director, Jeff has been active not only supporting and participating in club activities in Monroe, but also serving in the larger organization, which consists of 23 Boys and Girls Clubs throughout Snohomish County. He leads the Youth Council, which is formed by two or three teens from each club. They meet to discuss needs and make recommendations. This year, a focus has been on nutrition and an active lifestyle.

To that end, each club has been funded to purchase an aeroponic tower garden. This indoor structure provides the hands-on experience of growing vegetables, which are then used in the cooking classes. The Youth Council fosters leadership skills and community service, and from it participants are selected to be recognized as Youth of the Quarter and Youth of the Year.

On the other end of the age spectrum, supervised childcare for children from kindergarten to fifth grade is offered for an affordable cost. Before school, a breakfast is served at 7:30 a.m.; students are then transported to their respective schools and picked up afterward. A snack is available, and then Power Hour is on the agenda. If a student does not have homework, enriching materials are provided. Kids are then free to enjoy board games, work on projects, play basketball in the gym, or participate in one of the clubs, such as sign language and Smart Girls or Wise Guys.

Jeff says part of the mission at the Boys and Girls Club is to never turn away a child due to financial reasons, and he will work with the parents, health and human services, and other funding sources to secure a spot. Jeff wants more kids in our area to take advantage of this outstanding opportunity. Of the 7,000 students in Monroe, the Boys and Girls Club has served nearly 1,200. He would like to see that number increase.

Much of Jeff’s promotional work has been to partner with area businesses, other organizations and the City of Monroe. The Adopt-A-Park program enlists teens to clean up Skykomish River Park. Jeff teamed up with the Monroe Chamber of Commerce to host the East County Job Fair at the club. Fifty-five businesses participated in the first fair, and now it is a biannual event.

The most recent partnership has been the arrangement made with the Monroe School District to provide a safe haven for students whose families find themselves temporarily homeless. Under a state law, these students are assured continuity in their education by allowing them to attend their home school. The Boys and Girls club gives these children a healthy place to be as they wait for their transportation from Monroe to their homes in other cities. Neither the parents nor the school district is charged for this service.

In addition to his local efforts, Jeff has spearheaded the development of Boys and Girls club programs in the Northshore School District, which will be offered in all middle schools in Bothell in the fall. He also inspired the Blue Door campaign. The Blue Door on wheels has appeared in several locations around town, and on it are listed the generous supporters of the Boys and Girls Club. Jeff has also served as the president of the Snohomish Chamber of Commerce, coaches his son’s sports teams, volunteers for local event organizing, is a Cub Scout leader, and currently is a member of the Monroe City Council and the Snohomish County Board of Health.

Jeff points out that, “The positive impact on kids and the greater community of the staff, goals and activities of the club is tremendous.” He would like the community to be more aware of this valuable resource.

A last note, when asked to say a bit more about himself, this versatile, dedicated family man proudly shared his accomplishment of running a half marathon for 13 months in a row, and then topping it off with completing the Portland Marathon in October 2013, inspiring his kids to love running too. What a great role model for our kids!