"How can we get to kids and show them there's more to living than nice cars and fast cash?" John Logic, owner of the Snowboard Connection, asked this in a eulogy for his 23-year-old customer Jay Bateman, who was shot, probably during a drug deal, four years ago this fall.
Shortly after the murder, Logic came up with rough sketches for what would become the Service Board, a program designed to get kids like Bateman out of trouble and into community programs by including snowboarding trips as fun incentives. "These kids live in the shadow of Mount Rainier and they've never even been to the snow," Logic explains.
The idea has grown rapidly into one of the most innovative community service efforts in Seattle. "We figured, let's use snowboarding as a carrot and teach kids some other stuff while we're at it," Logic continues. He quickly teamed up with recent Seattle City Council candidate Thomas Goldstein—who admits that at the time he had "little interest in snowboarding . . . but tons in kids"—to form the Service Board with seed money from YMCA, the Washington Leadership Institute, Seattle University, and the Kongsgaard-Goldman Foundation.
The program will kick off its fifth year this winter with nine snowboarding trips and almost twice as many community building exercises, which include everything from r鳵m頡nd job-interview workshops, to volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, to yoga.
"People have always said 'no' to these kids," explains Goldstein. "'You got to stop doing this'; 'You got to stop skipping school'; 'Stop messing up'; 'Stop smoking pot.' Kids are bombarded by the Just Say No approach, and they're really good at tuning it out." Goldstein is aware that some Service Board members are mixed up in gangs and other unsavory dealings he'd rather not know about, but rather than admonish them, he wants to encourage kids with good role models, positive reinforcement, and fun.
"We say, 'Start doing things,' 'Listen to your peers.'. . . We're ultimately about delivering kids to really interesting, caring adults," Goldstein explains. Among the Service Board's impressive advisory committee are Logic, Police Chief Norm Stamper, City Council member Tina Podlodowski, and Sub Pop general manager Megan Jasper.
Service Board participants commit to twice-weekly meetings Jan-uary through June. Sundays are usually reserved for snowboarding. The Snowboard Connection furnishes the clothes, boots, and bindings; K2 donates boards; and local ski areas, including Stevens Pass and Crystal Mountain, provide discounted lift tickets. Wednesday evenings are saved for activities run by more than a dozen Service Board volunteers.
"When we asked, the thing the kids said they wanted most was job skills," says Goldstein. "We try to make that process as fun as we can." Other activities include public art projects, self-defense classes, and dance workshops. Every June, the group heads down for a weekend snowboarding trip on the glacier at Mount Hood, and wind up the year with a graduation dinner at Cafe Lago. The Service Board is supported by an eclectic mix of local businesses, including (aside from those already mentioned) Mae Phim Thai Restaurant, Free Ride Zone, 8 Limbs Yoga Center, and Odwalla Juices. To sign up, volunteer, or contribute, call the Service Board at 633-1998.