Pamela Porter, or Ms. Pam as her students call her, has been a program specialist at the Boys & Girls Club BOTT lab since 2018. Building Opportunity Through Technology, or BOTT, houses 23 computers where students explore programs catered to math, reading, science, and language art. Additionally, she volunteers as a Girls Scouts Troop Leader inside the BGC. Originally from Portland, Pamela moved to Tacoma in 2015 with her family, including twin sons Stephon and Sean who graduated from Lincoln High School in June 2019.

In this Q&A, Pamela shares the importance of community involvement. 

Why this community?

There are a lot of kids that need to see themselves in those who represent them. Some of these students are dealing with things at home that they can’t let come to the surface, so I see a huge need for positive role models. 

How have you experienced the community change through your time at the BGC?

A lot of families are struggling because of rent increases. Homeless rates have gone up tremendously, and it affects the community whether we want to talk about it or not. As far as positive change, graduation rates continue to increase each year. I’m seeing a lot more kids stepping up to the plate and saying I’m taking my education seriously. 

How can community members lean in to guide youth through the cradle to career pathway?

It truly takes a village to raise a child, so when a parent is absent, it decreases the value of our community. If you’re not involved in your children’s success, it can impact them negatively. I’m glad that Tacoma has a plethora of resources for kids to get involved in that can fill that void. 

How do you encourage your own children to be involved with their community?

At first, it was me pushing them to get involved in the things that interest them. As they matured and built their confidence, they began to recognize where they could make a difference. They’re both in Upward Bound. One is in ROTC and was a Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year. The other is a poet and member of the Mayor’s Youth Commission. When children know their community, it empowers them to use their talents and abilities to make a positive impact.

What drives you to continue working in youth development?

I get to be a starting foundation for these children. They look at you like heroes, especially elementary students. They love to learn. There’s just something about new ideas that spark their joy. I get to teach them leadership skills and show them that they too can be mentors and make a difference.