Photo by Jerry Gay
The Ballard Boys and Girls Club’s executive director, Shelley Puariea, is ready to take a shot at her new job.

A new face at the Ballard Boys and Girls Club

By Christy Wolyniak

Long-time director for the Federal Way campus, Shelley Puariea, made the move as Ballard’s new Executive Director in September, taking the place of 25-year Director Mark Hendricks. She shared her thoughts for the future of the club, and cited that her passion for children fueled the exciting new projects to come.

Though the community expressed frustration when a well-loved Hendricks was suddenly told that he was going to be transferred, Puariea said she has been easing into the community rather well. Puariea said her and Hendricks were close, long-time friends and often called each other when something arose.

“It’s been a good transition; the community has been very welcoming,” Puariea said. “It’s really great to have immediate friends you can connect with. It’s all about service above self and building friendships.”

Puariea said she is no stranger to Ballard, having lived in Magnolia in the past for about five years, as well as having her kids live on Queen Anne hill. She said she spent a lot of time in the neighborhood, going to the Sunday Market, playing with her golden retriever at Golden Gardens and bicycling all over the area with the Cascade Bicycle Club. It made the transition for her easier.

Puariea has also been around the block with the Ballard Boys and Girls Club. She has had a 31-year career with clubs around the region: first as an associate and then assistant executive director at the Bellevue club 1982-1991; then Director of Special Events and Funding at the King County headquarters 1992-1995; then Director of the Alderwood Boys and Girls Club in Snohomish County 1995-2002; and then Executive Director at the Federal Way and Auburn Boys and Girls Club 2002-2012.

Now, in Ballard, she hopes to duplicate the successes she has seen at Federal Way, where she brought in new programs that made her well known for her success with high school graduation rates.

“While at the Federal Way Club, Shelley led the development of the Be Great Graduate program, which is now regarded as one of the most impactful programs of its kind in the nation,” said Patrick Murray, regional director for the Boys and Girls Club of King County. “I am truly excited that the newly created Ballard GAINS program will now benefit from what she learned and developed in Federal Way.”

During the initial process of the transition, Boys and Girls Club of King County CEO Calvin Lyons also cited Puariea’s expertise with education programs.

“In Ballard, we need to invest in our Be Great Graduate program and align with a new program at Ballard High School called GAINS Success. Shelley has national recognition for her expertise in developing educational programs and John Hopkins University is currently studying her current Be Great Graduate program,” Lyons wrote in an letter to community members.

Much like the GAINS (Graduation Assistance Impacting Needy Students), Puariea saw success with Building Bridges, a program to help students endangered of not graduating. Be Great Graduate followed the creation of Building Bridges and maintains the same goals for students, utilizing additional programs to meet each student’s need.

For example, the Check and Connect program allows tutors to track with students to ensure their homework was completed while offering support in other areas.

“We want to prepare every kid who walks through our doors for success,” said Puariea.

The Boys and Girls Club facilitates activities as well as homework assistance and career guidance for students. Part of the Building Bridges program includes seeking out students who have already dropped out and helping them get their GEDs. At the Federal Way campus, 40 students attended a Boys and Girls Club class in order to complete their education.

According to Puariea, 11 percent of kids are not graduating in Ballard; compared to Federal Way, where about 30 percent of students were not graduating.

One thing that Puariea has found to be a key factor in a student’s success are the parents.

“Parents wanted their kids to come to the Boys and Girls Club. They didn’t want them to come home alone to an empty house, but to a safe, positive environment with good role models,” Puariea said.

With involvement with the Ballard Rotary and Chamber, Puariea hopes to engage club parents and community members in order to continue benefiting the Ballard community with the excellent Boys and Girls Club it has already built.

“Between Shelley and her exceptional team of youth development professionals,” Murray added, “the Ballard Club will build on its successes moving into the future to ensure that it is serving its members at the highest possible level.”

Puariea is looking for ways to expand even more programs for high-school-aged students. Puariea hopes to see a new rhythmic gymnastics class for girls, as well as more sports such as soccer, golf and tennis introduced to the Ballard campus.

“It has been great to see the community support the Ballard club so much. I’m happy to be here and contribute to the success of the kids we serve. I am excited to expand programs and add some new ones, and do even more with schools, kids and the community. We have a very strong team of people -- the staff here is terrific and everyone is very dedicated. The major part is that we all love kids.”

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