The Stilly Valley Youth Dynamics held their annual dinner and auction on March 16 to raise funds for their work with local youth.
The faith-based organization with many branches around the Pacific Northwest provides a space for kids to feel valued and go on activities and adventures.
"We're here to build relationships with these students, to help them know that they are loved and cared for," said Jessica Ronhaar, executive director of Stilly Valley Youth Dynamics.
Youth Dynamics marks 25 years of working in Arlington in 2019.
They held their annual dinner and auction last week, which is their largest fundraiser for the year and helps pay for their activities.
Bronco Huge, vice-president of communities for Youth Dynamics, was involved in the early years of the Arlington chapter.
"We did lots of activities back then," he said, "a lot of adventure-type trips, out on the rivers."
Huge said that the organization always tries to reach out to students.
"We really want to go where students are, not just at the school, but whatever they are at life," he said.
Amie Verellen Grubbs, assistant director of teaching and learning Lakewood School District and former staff member and principal with the Arlington School District, said that Huge and Ronhaar have both come into local schools to help students.
"He was a fixture on our campus, making connections with kids all the time, and now we have the opportunity to work with Jessica [Ronhaar] and see her make a difference every day as well," said Grubbs.
She said that Youth Dynamics provides better choices for students.
"Youth Dynamics is about options, giving kids more options than they even knew existed, about giving them options of more people to talk with them at lunch, giving them some place where they are seen or heard," she said.
Local community members came out to the event to support the organization.
"I've been to Youth Dynamics before," said community member Val Herbert. "I love what they do."
Curtis White, a local parent, said that Youth Dynamics helped give his children a lot of activities to feel a part of.
"Youth Dynamics gives them opportunities to view things, have adventures, take chances and go on crazy road trips," he said.
"If I had that at that age I would have grabbed a hold of it with both hands and not let go," he said.
The Stilly Valley Youth Dynamics expanded its reach beyond Arlington recently, and re-branded itself as the 'Stilly Valley Youth Dynamics.'
"Two years ago we answered the call and moved beyond the borders of Arlington where we had been for a long time," said Ronhaar, who added that the organization has been working in Stanwood-Camano.
"We continue to listen and build relationships in the Stilly Valley as well," she said.
This year the group also started working at Darrington High School and is looking to start with Lakewood High School.
"It's been so exciting having so many schools coming to us and asking us to partner with them," she said.