Christine Destry is the Development Director at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County. She leverages her passion for serving local youth by building community and raising funds to support over 6,000 club members in Whatcom County.

How long have you been with the Boys & Girls Club?

I’ve been in this position for eight years, but I’ve been with Boys and Girls Clubs as a whole for 15 years. I got my start in Mount Vernon, with the Boys and Girls Club of Skagit as their new resource person. I then moved to Southern California; my husband took a job with a government contractor in the Mojave Desert. I became the Executive Director of five clubs down there.

After five years, we really missed the rain. A lot. We came back, and this position had opened up. I was able to make it mine. This is the only place I’ve ever moved back to.

If you had to relax in Bellingham, where would it be?

This word relax—I’m not really sure what that means. What is this thing you say?

I really like to do yoga. That’s how I relax. I relax at the gym in the early morning hours before my day starts. It sets my mind and mental frame. This summer, I’ve also gotten out a lot at Lake Padden.

That’s probably as close to relaxing as I will ever get—enjoying quiet sunny walks, and sitting on the shore watching people, or just feeling the breeze and sun on your back. I also love that they have a dog park.

What would be your perfect Bellingham weekend?

I would get a pedicure with my daughter. Then my husband and I would go for sushi, probably at Asian 1. We’d take the kids to a goofy family movie, then go home and play games.

What do you like best about your job?

The best thing about my job is that I get to live in hope, I get to swim in dreams, and I get to watch the best of people at their best. I get to share kid’s dreams, and watch people embrace that, and make it matter. It’s a really cool thing to be a part of—when you know you can connect somebody with something that’s really important.

We have a lot of kids that don’t have a lot of opportunities in life, but because they have Boys and Girls Clubs, they have a lot of things open up for them. Being able to share that with the community is so powerful, when you know you’re telling someone that their donation fed a kid a hot meal—a kid who really needed a hot meal. Or that the gift you made helped 742 kids who were really struggling with reading catch up, and even get ahead with their reading scores.

What do people not understand about the organization?

We are often misunderstood for being childcare. We’re not. Some people may use us for childcare but that’s not who we are, and what we do. We are more than that, we program with purpose.

A lot of people know us through athletics and sports. We run the best sports program in the area. We also do robotics, a building club, and a smart girls and wise guys program that builds character, and is a health education and prevention program to keep kids on the right track during adolescence. We help them navigate grey areas—like, “What’s an appropriate relationship with your peers when you’re 12? What is dating?

Is there a book you’ve read recently that you really liked?

I like reading … a lot.

I just finished a book called the Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. It’s so good; the best way I can describe it is delicious. It’s electric, beautifully written, and so descriptive and colorful.

The other book I’m reading right now is really boring, but really important. It’s about food and nutrition, called The China Study, by Thomas and T. Allen Campbell.

Is there a new business or organization that you’d like to see in Bellingham?

I’d love to see a Nordstrom Rack. But, I don’t think that’s going to happen. [laughs]

I’d really like to see more manufacturing and tech jobs in the area. We lose a lot of talent. We’re a great place for larger companies that have headquarters. It’s 2015, you can do business pretty much anywhere. Why not do it in Bellingham?

We have so much to offer. Lower overhead, lower cost of living. A great talent pool, and without the high cost of living that you have in Seattle, or other larger cities. It’d be great to see viable incubators and startups here. We lose a lot of kids that leave and don’t come back because there’s not a whole lot of jobs if you’re not in BP or the refineries, or Western, or the Hospital. If you find your niche—great—but we end up losing a lot of talent that we should be keeping.

Do you have a favorite spot downtown?

My favorite lunch spot is Brandywine. If I worked downtown, I’d eat there all the time. It’d be dangerous.

I love Cresswell Boggs. It’s the funkiest, coolest, eclectic, bizarre, and hilarious store I’ve ever seen. I could spend two hours in there milling around. I also love Michael’s Used Books. Oh, and Mallard Ice Cream. We have to include Mallard in my perfect Bellingham weekend.

If you enrolled at Western today, what would you major in?

It’s slightly embarrassing. I would have to do one of those Fairhaven College independent study programs so I could set about on a path to changing the IRS regulations for nonprofits.

How would you change them?

I would like to make them fair for nonprofits, and more in line with how for-profit companies are able to invest in themselves and invest in their communities. If you look at a nonprofit’s 990, you have three expense columns—program expenses, management expenses, and fundraising expenses. I find great fault with the breakdown of how the IRS allocates expenses for nonprofits. I don’t think it’s fair and inline with how for-profit companies delineate their expenses.

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