in partnership
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(Image: Seattle Refined)

It's all smiles at the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club

All is quiet at the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club. It's peaceful - calm. Everything is set perfectly in it's place.

People are working, but few words are exchanged.

They all know it's a temporary respite...the first bus is approaching, and the action is about to begin.

The Club serves as many as 250 children a day. Diane Prouty knows each and every one of them by name.

"My job since day one has been to get those kids greeted when they come in the door," said Prouty. "They used to walk across the street, then they built a new school. Now they're bussed in."

Prouty can tell just by looking at them whether it was a good, or bad day.

"There's more than once that I'll stop a child and say, 'Are you okay?'" she said. "And 'What happened on the bus is on the bus, we're going to start over once we get inside'. And it works. It works."

Prouty is affectionately known as "Grandma" at the club. She's worked here for more than 18 years. Her goal, and the goal of the entire staff, is to make sure it's a positive environment for all the kids.

"We have a lot of single parents out here," she said. "A lot of kids in foster care. And those people have to go to work, and we're the only stability that's open from six to six Monday through Friday."

The club is open on non-school days, and most holidays.

"We are the stability, we are always here," said Prouty proudly. "They know our doors will always be open."

"We just try to take care of the kids the best that we can," director Mark Hatch agrees. "Hopefully help them grow up and be responsible adults."

For Hatch, taking care of the kids starts with making sure they are fed. His team serves a hot breakfast in the morning, and a hot snack in the afternoon.

"Some of these kids are here until seven at night," said Hatch. "So that's their dinner. They really count on that a lot."

They also provide programs that allow the children to pursue their passions. There is state-of-the-art athletic facilities, an art room, technology center - even a garden to help teach the value of healthy eating.

"It's self assurance, it's self esteem, it's individuality. And that's what we try to do in all our rooms. We just, we let them do our own thing to an extent."

None of it would be possible without the support of the Tulalip tribes, and Tulalip Resort Casino. The money they give ensures this facility will remain a community resource - and continue to grow for years to come.

"Our children, our young ones, and especially the ones still coming are precious and are really our resource," said Tulalip Tribes chairwoman Marie Zackuse. "Anything that we do, all the decisions that we make are for our kids today, but really are for those seven generations coming."

Amongst this sea of smiling faces, you'll find the next generation of athletes, artists, authors, entrepreneurs and tribal leaders. Young people, with the power to someday change the world.

For those who work at the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club, who selflessly five their time and their hearts - watching these children achieve their dreams is the ultimate reward.

It's why they do it.

"They're happy to come here and see you, they can't wait to come to the club," said Hatch. "And that's what's best for me. Being able to see them grow up, go to school next door - the Betty Taylor Learning Center. In three years, I've seen the kids change dramatically and I feel great knowing I'm part of it, knowing I'm a part of something special."