Bridgestone Grant controls opportunities for local boys’ and girls’ clubs

New doors are opening for local children who attend one of Spokane County’s four local boys’ and girls’ clubs after the donation of a new van makes field trips possible.

Children can visit a local park, take a tour of a college, or participate in outdoor activities. The possibilities are nearly unlimited.

“We’re so excited because this just opens the door to all sorts of cool things,” helps CEO Wendy Drum. “We’re definitely going to be using the van for a lot of field trips and baseball games this summer.”

Last summer, Drum learned about a Bridgestone Americas grant called the Driving Great Futures Initiative that would give 12 boys’ and girls’ clubs across the country $50,000 to buy a passenger car. The local boys’ and girls’ clubs shared a van with no seats and had no bus or other vehicle to facilitate field trips.

The goal of the scholarship program is to provide students with opportunities for enrichment.

“We know that access to extracurricular activities and resources is fundamental to unlocking the full potential of our young people,” said Marko Ibrahim, president of Bridgestone Retail Operations, in a press release. “We are honored to help expand opportunities for boys’ and girls’ clubs in Spokane County to serve more of the area’s children and teens than ever before.”

The Spokane County Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs provide after-school care and summer programs in North Spokane near NorthTown Mall, at two locations in Mead and in the Spokane Valley.

The Spokane County Boys and Girls Clubs won one of the grants, but Drum said she wasn’t told why her club stood out from the rest, although she suspects the community may have played a role.

“We have wonderful families and wonderful partners and supporters in the community,” she said. “The way our community comes together and supports us is impactful.”

When they were told they had won, they went in search of a used van. They finally found a 2018 Ford Transit 360XL 15-passenger van that fit the budget.

“It took us a long time to find one at this price,” she said. “We actually drove all the way to Kalispell, Montana to get it. It is used but our partners at Bridgestone take very good care of us.”

The van is being serviced at local Bridgestone dealers who have already provided new tires and a new battery. The van, complete with foil identifying it as the Boys and Girls Club’s Driving Great Futures van, was officially unveiled last week.

The van will carry two adults and 13 children on each trip. Several employees are trained in the safety and other requirements needed to be certified to drive so there is no driver shortage.

“It’s a very long and tedious process, but it’s worth it,” she said.

As only 13 children can ride in the van at a time, they are divided into groups for excursions, with different groups driving on different days. According to Drum, the students are already sorted into cohorts by age and grade level, so it will be easy to form smaller groups at once.

“Everyone gets the same opportunities, it’s just shared,” she said.

Drum and the students of the Boys and Girls Club look forward to excursions in the area.

“It’s going to be exciting,” she said. “We are ready to use it.”

https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2022/dec/21/bridgestone-grant-steers-opportunity-for-local-boy/ Bridgestone Grant controls opportunities for local boys’ and girls’ clubs

Brian Ashcraft

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