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Hub: More than just basketball

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This month marks the beginning of another basketball season for the Snoqualmie Valley

Youth Hub. Close to 1,000 youths are expected to take to the

courts, perfecting pick-and-rolls and playing zone defenses in

school gymnasiums from North Bend to Fall City. And countless

volunteers will spend their time walking the sidelines as coaches,

manning the scorekeeper's table or just making sure everything runs

as smoothly as possible.

Over the past decade, Hub basketball and the

non-profit organization's other after-school and summer programs have

become staples of Valley life. Fritz Ribary, chairman of the Hub

Advisory Board, said the success of Hub depended on the support

of the Snoqualmie Valley School District and

Redmond-based Friends of Youth, which provides residential, treatment and

support services for children and families.

Last fall, officials with Hub and Friends of Youth

announced that the organizations were formalizing their relationship,

with Friends of Youth taking over the management of Hub. In this

first full year of the new relationship, Carl Thompson, Hub director,

said most Valley residents won't notice a difference.

"I think it's good for the Valley because it's not going

anywhere," he said of Hub. "All programs will stay the same.

There might be minor changes in the way we operate."

Ribary said Friends of Youth has always been there, behind

the scenes, ready to assist Hub whenever it asked.

"That partnership has been a critical element since Day 1,

and it remains a critical element," he said.

"For many years, their focus and their public image was

that of counseling troubled youths, and they looked to us as

preventive maintenance."

But with Friends of Youth managing the Valley

organization, Hub has access to resources that before now it may not

have been able to provide, and it helps stabilize Hub's funding.

Ribary said Hub can provide more referrals for children and families

needing assistance, and while the organization has received

United Way funding in the past, those who contribute to the United

Way can now specify that they want their money to go to Hub.

"You can donate [money] to the United Way and earmark it

for Hub," Thompson said.

It also gives Hub the policies and procedures — such as

conducting background checks for those who work with children

— that a growing organization needs.

"You've got to have policies and procedures in place in

case things go sideways," he said. "Small groups these days,

they just can't afford to do that.

"[The partnership] recognizes that Hub is a successful,

viable program in all the things that it has been doing," he added.

Thompson said it also gives Hub the opportunity to

create programs and not worry about whether it can afford the

insurance needed to provide the activity.

"They've got such a big insurance program that we

don't have to worry about `Is this feasible, do we have to call a

lawyer?'" he said.

Thompson said that last year Hub served 1,709 youths,

with close to 800 in basketball and about 100 in the track

program. Without the support of the Snoqualmie Valley School

District, Hub wouldn't be able to offer as many programs as it does.

"Without utilizing the schools, boy, I wouldn't

know what we'd do," he said. And Hub needs the facilities as more

and more people move into the Valley.

Ribary said it's that partnership that has allowed Hub to

focus on serving youth instead of building facilities. When Hub

was formed in the early 1990s, several area agencies suggested

that the Valley organization should build some kind of

multipurpose facility to attract youths.

"It seemed that their focus and their suggestions were, `One:

Get a whole bunch of money. Two: Get a facility. And three: Open

its doors,'" Ribary said.

Ultimately, Hub board members decided not to follow

those suggestions, instead creating a program-based organization

that used local schools to house their activities, for which they

charged a nominal fee to participate. They started with basketball,

which Ribary said continues to grow by about 20 percent a year, and

added after-school programs, such as arts and crafts, games and

tutoring. Also, youths may participate in various outings, summer

sports camps and day camps and even a fly-fishing class at Sandy

Cove Park in Snoqualmie. Along the way, the SnoValley Track

Club joined forces with Hub, as did the Rise program, which started

at Snoqualmie Elementary School and provides after-school

reading, tutoring and the opportunity to learn foreign languages.

Even more sports will be featured this summer,

Thompson said. "We're going to try to do a golf program at Mount Si,

and we'll probably do a tennis program for a couple of weeks."

Despite the growth in Hub programs and

participation, Ribary said its focus remains what it was 10 years ago, when

residents kicked around ideas for creating youth activities in the

Valley.

"We're trying to address that `X' percentage of the

population that says, `There's nothing to do. There's nowhere to go.

I'm bored,'" he said.

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