Boys & Girls Clubs of the Lewis Clark Valley Gets Its First Ever Million Dollar Gift

Date: May 10, 2018

Pictured Left to Right: Gary Hughes, Jutta Hughes, Jon Evans
One of the conventional definitions of the term “philanthropy” is a private initiative for the public good.  Locally, that private initiative has been in practice for many years, compliments of Gary & Jutta Hughes.  Since 1997, the Hughes’ have been providing financial support to many local nonprofit agencies, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Lewis Clark Valley.  And…they have once again shown their support for the Clubs by announcing a contribution to the Clubs in the amount of $1 million dollars.
“This is the first ever million-dollar gift to our organization, and we are overwhelmed by the support and generosity that Gary and Jutta have shown us over the years, and to now have this is just amazing.,” says Jon Evans, Executive Director.
Gary first joined the Board of the Club in the mid 90’s.  “It was actually Gary Prasil who told me that they really wanted a good Board Member, so that was when they got Jutta to take my place,” jokes Gary.  Not only was Jutta an outstanding Board Member, but, she also chaired the Club’s annual auction twice, once in 2002 and again in 2003.  Her outstanding work as a Board Member led her Board peers to award her “Director Emeritus” status in 2005.
Gary and Jutta have long supported youth at the Club who come from tough financial circumstances.  “We never wanted to see a child not able to access Club programs or activities, so we have always focused our attention and support to help ensure that no child is ever denied access to the Clubs or Club programming due to financial hardship,” says Gary Hughes.  Gary himself grew up in less than fortunate circumstances, so this has always struck a chord with him.  Additionally, Gary was a Club Member himself, spending time at the Greenwood Boys Club in Seattle, WA in the late 1940’s.  “At my Club boxing and the games room were what kept me coming back…it was where I learned to play pool.  That Club kept a lot of kids such as myself out of trouble,” says Hughes, adding “…the Club helped me when I was a kid, and I wanted to give back to Club kids who need help today.”
While their support has been significant here in the Valley, Gary adds “…most people don’t realize that the bulk of our business takes place outside of the Lewis Clark Valley.  Although we have our administrative office here, our resources are generated in 9 different states, so a lot of what we have been able to contribute here locally has been generated from outside the community.”
The gift is structured in such a way that it will provide membership and program scholarship assistance to children and families who need it most.  “The added beauty of this gift, is that it will generate approximately $40,000 per year, in perpetuity, specifically to help with Club membership and programs scholarships.  It will benefit kids today, tomorrow and long into the future,” says Evans.
The organization currently serves just over 4,200 Club Members in the greater LC Valley and surrounding areas, and has an annual budget of $2 million dollars.  This past year there were $141,000 worth of requests for scholarship support.  Along with the Club staff, the Board of Directors work year round to raise the needed resources to make sure that all of these requests are met.  “As part of our overall philosophy, along with charter requirements from Boys & Girls Clubs of America, our dues are low and affordable for all,” says current Board President Mike MacDowell.  “However, there are still folks who need additional assistance, and thanks to Gary and Jutta, this gift will play a major role in helping us to achieve this year in and year out, and for many years to come.”
The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Lewis Clark Valley have been serving kids since 1945.  There are currently 3 locations…Lapwai, Clarkston and Lewiston, and during the summer, a fourth site at Fenton Gym for the Summer Challengers program, along with Camp Wittman up in the Craig Mountain area.  The Club servers over 4,200 Club Members a year, and during the school year their average daily attendance is right around 500, and during the summer, that numbers goes up to 700 kids a day.