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FAST FIVE Mark Kuhnhausen: A champion for kids

by DEVIN WEEKS
Staff Writer | December 12, 2020 1:00 AM

Mark Kuhnhausen: A champion for kids Mark Kuhnhausen, sports fan and champion for kids.

Generation: I fall into the Generation X category. Work hard, play hard.

Career and community involvement:

I have spent more than 30 years working with Boys & Girls Clubs throughout the Pacific Region prior to becoming the executive director for Boys & Girls Clubs of Kootenai County. I am extremely proud to be leading a team of dedicated professionals who are committed to serving youth in Kootenai County. Our clubhouses in Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls have stood strong during this pandemic. Our staff have been providing academic support, guidance and hope for our youth. We have adjusted with the various school schedules to help relieve some of the pressures on working families. By providing low-cost child care and homework assistance, parents are able to go to work.

Parental status:

My wife and I have been married for 31 years. We have two grown children: Kelsey (age 31) and Kasey (age 28). Both were everyday Club kids and we are very thankful the Club was there for them growing up.

Why pursue a career at the Boys & Girls Club, and what are a few of the best things about working with kids?

If you want to make a difference in the lives of young people, being a professional role model at the Boys & Girls Club could be the start of a career in caring. There are nearly 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs across the country serving more than 4 million kids. Now more than ever, we need caring adult professionals to provide hope, guidance and inspiration to our youth. Unlike working in construction or landscaping, you do not see the finished product right away. It’s hard to step back and say, '"I built that." However, when a kid comes back and tells you that the Boys & Girls Club changed their life…or in some cases, saved their life…it is a powerful testimony to the work we do. I can’t imagine a more fulfilling career.

Why is it important children of all ages have positive role models to mentor them and engage with them?

I think every child, regardless of age, needs positive role models in their lives. As you think back to your own childhood, I imagine somewhere along the way there was an adult (other than your parents) who helped shape who you are today. It could have been a coach, teacher, pastor or staff member at a local Boys & Girls Club. These mentors believed in you. They listened to you. They wanted the best for you. Kids need champions and someone to look up to. We need mentors who model good behavior, who are available to listen, understand and guide young people as they navigate through all the pressures associated with growing up in today’s world. We need to instill confidence in young people and give them the courage and tools to choose right from wrong. We need to celebrate their successes and support them when they have struggled. Having positive role models for kids is a critical component to ensuring young people are on the path to success.

How can our community make Christmas extra special for less fortunate kids this holiday season?

There are many organizations working hard to ensure our kids are taken care of during the holiday season. One way to help us make Christmas a little extra special is by joining the Boys & Girls Club Christmas for Kids program. Our Club staff have identified 30 of our most in-need families who will receive $300 in groceries including a full holiday meal and recipes thanks to the help of Super 1 and Eat Smart Idaho. In addition to food, each member of the family will get to participate in a shopping spree to purchase warm clothing, and all children will receive a surprise Christmas gift from their wish list. $100 sponsors a child and $500 a family. You can donate and volunteer to the program by visiting our website: www.northidahobgc.org

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

Although I became the executive director of the Kootenai County Boys & Girls Clubs in July of 2020, I think people might be surprised to learn that I worked with Ryan Davis and the original board of directors in 2007 to help establish the first Boys & Girls Club in Post Falls.

What is one of your most favorite childhood memories and why?

So many great childhood memories... I was fortunate to be born in an era before cell phones and the only rules were get your chores done and be home by dark. Sports were a big part of my life growing up and it seemed like we were constantly trying to organize pick-up games. One of my fondest memories was during football season. None of us in the neighborhood had a big enough backyard yard to play an organized game of football and we were tired of playing in the street. So, we decided to make our own field. We went home, grabbed our lawn mowers and towed them behind our bikes to an open field. We spent the whole day mowing down weeds and blackberry bushes to create our own football field. It was a lot of work, but every one one of us took pride in that field and we spent countless hours that year playing tackle football in our own little stadium. Looking back on it now, perhaps that was the beginning of identifying a problem and figuring out a way to solve it. Whatever it takes.