Photo by Jerry Gay
Ballard Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Mark Hendricks and Childcare Director Kim Brandenburg, after dedicating years of service, are both leaving the club for different reasons.

Ballard waves goodbye to Mark and Kim

This month, the Ballard community has been waving and hugging goodbye to two long-time workers at the Ballard Boys and Girls Club: Executive Director Mark Hendricks and Childcare Director Kim Brandenburg.

Friday, Oct. 12, the Ballard Boys and Girls Club held the 8th Annual BBQ and Auction Fundraiser. More than a moneymaking event, it was also a tribute and a chance to say goodbye to Hendricks and Brandenburg. The club’s gymnasium was packed with people, including parents, children, long-time workers and old friends as well as new friends. The din of chatter and laughter never quieted down until people took the stage to speak.

The event marks the completion of a transition that was the subject of much controversy at the beginning of last month. On Sept. 7, Boys and Girls Club of King County CEO Calvin Lyons officially announced to employees that Hendricks would be transferred to Federal Way, and that Federal Way’s Executive Director, Shelley Puariea, would be transferred to Ballard. The announcement was immediately met with a large backlash of community outrage, culminating in a rally, a petition and a phone and letter writing campaign. Still, Lyons remained firm in his decision.

However, last Friday’s event was more about celebrating both Mark, who was executive director in Ballard for 25 years, and Brandenburg, who is retiring after putting in 20 years of work. Speakers alluded to previous happenings, but most energy was focused on giving a deserving farewell to the two long-time employees.

“Although we are all angry, saddened and dismayed by the events of recent weeks, I, for one, would like all of us to focus tonight on gratitude,” said Neil Scott, a former president of Ballard Boys and Girls Club and one of the original people to hire Hendricks. “Tonight is not about what we have lost, but what we have gained and have treasured for the past 25 years. The gift of Mark Hendricks.”

John Goodman, a big supporter of the club, shared a similar sentiment.

“This man is a gift,” Goodman said. “He was a gift to everyone in the room, and he will be a gift to everyone in Federal Way … the number one thing we do is we help children in our society, we help children in Ballard. We help everyone.”

When Hendricks finally took the stage after several speakers, the entire room got up to its feet and clapped and cheered. Hendricks stood there, ebullient, smiling and laughing, seemingly unsure what to do with all the attention. Likewise, his speech had very little to do with himself, instead piling praise onto Brandenburg, who did not get up to speak, and donors such as Goodman.

When asked in a phone interview about why he stayed in Ballard so long, even though he and his family lives in Federal Way, Hendricks said that he hadn’t really planned on it. When he first interviewed for the job, he told his employers that he only planned giving it his all for three years and would then probably move on to something else.

“(But) in all honesty, every year just got better,” he said. “You know, it’s just been a wonderful, wonderful career.”

With Hendricks at the reigns, the Ballard Boys and Girls Club expanded significantly. When Hendricks first came to the club, he said it was tiny, had a gravel lot and barbed wire on the fence. But during his tenure, he was able to completely transform it, expanding it into a campus which, along with several school programs around the area, serves over 450 kids.

In 1988, the ballfield was completely renovated with the support of Seattle Mariners, the Boeing Company, Art Olsen and other community members.

In 1989, everything was rebuilt save for the gym with the help of Bob Wenman and Ballard Rotary.

In 1999, a second, 3,500 sq. ft. story was added with the help of the Harry and Clare Wilson Trust.

In 2010, an additional 4,000 sq. ft. of space was added, which gave the club the ability to help many more children.

The last instance was the result of significant fundraising efforts and is perhaps the epitome of Hendricks’ career to date. The effort started with a pledge from Shawn and John Goodman, totaling $1,000,000, and was followed by donations from the Wilson Trust as well as hundreds of other donors. Hendricks said the campaign was so successful that they had to look to other parts of the club to spend excess money.

“It is so appropriate to be celebrating in this building, a building that Mark Hendricks built piece by piece, dream by dream, dollar by dollar,” Scott said. “It embodies the magnificence of his passion, commitment and tenacity.”

Despite his own strides, Hendricks said that the Club would not have been nearly successful as it has been without the help of his staff and especially Brandenburg, who has worked diligently and has kept a high level of professionalism for the past 20 years. Brandenburg is now finally retiring so she can spend more time with her own children.

“A lot of times (if) you got the big desk or the big office, you get credit for a lot of things you shouldn’t get credit for,” Hendricks said in a phone interview. “Kim really deserves the credit for training staff and having the highest standards possible.”

At the event, Scott also dwelled on Brandenburg’s qualities.

“A big part of Mark’s success has been the people he’s hired to work shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart with him,” Scott said. “One stands out like a shining star -- and that star is Kim Brandenburg, who has shared Mark’s passion and commitment. The job she has done as childcare director has been exemplary.”

Now, both Hendricks and Brandenburg will be moving on to the next step in their life, though it’s clear they have not stopped caring about the children.

For Hendricks, the transfer brings him closer to his family and his home, which is in Federal Way. At the Federal Way Boys and Girls Club, Hendricks said he could see the school where his wife works by just stepping outside the building.

“That’s a huge benefit and a huge positive to this move,” he said.

Despite the controversy over his transfer, Hendricks is still optimistic and still, more than anything, cares about the children.

“That’s the key to everything, really: Have fun and make sure to take care of children and, what the heck, everything’ll be fantastic.”

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