On last day of our 2013 program, as I sat in our school bus with our program director Julian Snider in the driver’s seat, our volunteer Anton Bozian as watchful instructor driver and cohort of kids who lip synced, gyrated to blaring music on the radio with Julian every now and then shouting over the music to keep them seated in vain, I could only see this as a befitting finale to a phenomenal 2013 for Seattle Urban Squash.
We only started the program back in February 2013 with a simple desire to promote Squash to our younger generation and in the process discovered NUSEA – National Urban Squash and Education Association (http://www.NationalUrbanSquash.org) that not only inspired us to build the program for the kids coming from some of the most needy families in our own communities but also provided us a proven framework and structural guidance to get all the pieces in place. Ten months on with a robust program in place, Seattle Urban Squash is on its way to be a fully sanctioned NUSEA chapter as we add more kids, more court and study hours as well as raise our revenues to match the expanded program.
At first, one of the biggest challenges was to secure courts and play times and we spent a great deal of time and collective efforts from various team members to explore all viable options. We are extremely grateful to owner and managers of Seattle Athletic Club facilities, Management of YMCA of Tacoma and Seattle for giving us the necessary space both for courts and classrooms while striking the right balance between their business interests and greater good for our community.
Next challenge was selecting a school in the vicinity that meets NUSEA criteria (with majority of kids on subsidized meals program – that is coming from most needy families in our community). It took a lot of effort to get on to the calendars of school staff, convince them of a new program, discuss all the viable options and get them to agree on a pilot. Once we were invited to their morning gathering to present in front of entire school gathering, and the kids (and their PE teacher, I might add) watched Ramy Ashour, Nicole David and other Squash athletes do wonders behind the glass doors, heard from Jesse Pacheco – first All American from Urban Squash, the tides were turned in our favor. School staff and kids were excited about the program and we began scheduling trials pending clearing of all the logistical hurdles.
Next came the hard work of going through a serious of logistical hurdles, finalizing court times, days at various facilities, working out liability insurance requirements, waivers, transportation arrangements, organizing trails with kids, obtaining parental consents, selection of kids to be in the program, seeking out and scheduling of volunteers – Kudos to our full time staffer Julian who diligently tackled through every single hurdle. For a young man fresh out of college, our demanding board of directors heaped a ton of responsibility on his shoulders but he proved his mantle.
All this while, to raise funds, we organized a number of events from private solicitations, wine and cheese gatherings, silent auctions, raffles to a fun team tournament – again thanks to our board of directors, advisors, volunteers and Squash facilities owners and management. Here is a brief on our finances for this year.
Office Expenses above include – Fundraising (mostly beverages, supplies), printing, online and banking charges, licenses and permits, kids’ meals, fuel and parking. A big thank you to all of you – our donors and well-wishers who have made this program possible with your belief in this young organization and its team members, with our shared vision of doing good for our community, our young generation through Squash and Education and your generous contributions. We have stayed frugal and tried to spend every penny wisely but we know we can do and achieve more with your continued support.
A big thank you goes to our tireless volunteers also who have donated their time and energy to come to help our lone staffer Julian from simplest of the needs (like – someone to accompany girls to the women’s locker room!) to taking his place in his absence to carry out the program day-in, day-out flawlessly.
Kids who are in the program now and their parents – they have given us their trust and are a treat to work with. Kids are learning the game, doing their school work or reading assignments. They work together, help each other, and raise hands to ask for help. Parents anxiously wait for their return and are there to pick them up, listen intently to what Julian or other volunteers have to say about their kids – This is a promising start of the program.
As we look ahead to 2014, we intend to continue on our core mission – induct new kids into the program, work with facilities to expand our court and classroom times and raise more funds with your support to not only meet our annual budget needs but also to build reserves both towards a rainy day fund as well as a capital fund for large expenses down the road.
We look forward to your continued personal involvement and support to our shared vision of creating pathways of opportunities for kids from underserved communities around us through Squash and Education.
Thank You All for giving us a fabulous 2013! Happy holidays and Happy 2014 to all of you!
Chairman and Co-Founder,
Seattle Urban Squash