The original Club, then called the Rainier Vista Boys & Girls Club, opened in 1976 to provide a safe place for kids in the Rainier Valley. Over the years, demand outgrew the aging walls. Public and private groups and individuals—including the City of Seattle, the Seattle Housing Authority, King County and the Boys & Girls Club of King County Board of Directors—rallied around a vision of a new, state-of-the-art Club for the Rainier Vista community.
In November 2008, the promise was fulfilled when the new Joel E. Smilow Clubhouse and Teen Center at Rainier Vista opened its doors. At 40,000 square feet, it is triple the size of the original Club and is the largest Boys & Girls Club built on a public housing site. One side houses the Rainier Vista Boys & Girls Club for grades K-8. The other side houses the Teen Center for middle- and high-school youth. Each side has its own gym, technology lab, learning center, games room and more. The $17 million structure stands as a monument to what can happen when a community comes together for a common purpose.
Joel E. Smilow has been involved with Boys & Girls Clubs of America for over 30 years. He served as vice chairman and a member of the executive committee of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In 2003, Boys & Girls Clubs of America recognized Mr. Smilow's dedication to improving the quality of life for American children by honoring him with its President's Award. Club Fact Sheet