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Coach plants seeds to change world one child at a time

Believing change starts with children and youth, Kevin Trim seeks to reach young people through the summer and after-school programs he coordinates at the East Central Community Center.

He began as recreation coordinator in June 2013.

Kevin Trim, East Central Community Center
Kevin Trim shares information on people of significance

Kevin invests in children by planting seeds of personal accountability so they will be able to be productive people in society. He encourages children to plan to go to college, work hard, set attainable goals and never give up.

“I seek to change the world one child at a time,” he said.

Kevin has developed a tennis program in a neighborhood where it’s not the norm.  Starting with two children last May, the program now has about 40.

He also brings a commitment to instill reading, writing, math, manners, respect and empathy.

“For me, teaching tennis is about more than hitting a tennis ball.  It’s about what kind of person each child will be after spending time learning tennis from me,” he said.

“As a soccer and tennis coach, I was hired to bring fresh thinking and create opportunities for kids.  Like my parents, I believe in creating an environment where any child can progress, regardless of race or gender,” he said.

To motivate youth, Kevin turned two windows in the gym into “Windows of Significance,” placing photos and stories of six significant people, including Hillary Clinton, Serena Williams, Bill Gates and others, who by persevering, being honest and showing compassion for others have made significant differences in the world.  Kevin tells children they can also become significant by persevering, trusting and caring.

It’s his first venture in the nonprofit realm.

“In nonprofit work, your heart has to be in it, because it’s not about making money,” said Kevin, who has usually held two jobs.  “It’s about building relationships to provide services that empower people to better themselves.”

As an ambitious African-American man, Kevin is a role model.

“I want to provide opportunities for youth, regardless of color, to further their minds and hearts so they can choose their roads.  There are more poor white children here than poor black children,” he said.  “My parents pushed the value of opportunity.  That’s why we chose to live in Spokane.

“You have nothing if you have no opportunity,” he said.

Kevin grew up living in Germany and moving where his father was stationed in the army.  Despite roots in New Orleans, his family settled in Spokane.  His father was a master sergeant, who was commanding officer of the Army Reserve Center in Hillyard.  He came in 1965, when Kevin was 12, and retired in Spokane.

His family attended Calvary Baptist.  After graduating from Rogers High School, Kevin grew away from the church, but not the values.

The various jobs he has held include with several restaurants,  Safeway, Kaiser and Rosauers.

He has coached since 1974, both volunteering and working in coaching tennis and soccer with SYSA, Rogers, the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department, Gonzaga Prep, Shadle Park and Central Valley high schools, 24-Hour Fitness, the Spokane Club and Spokane Racquet Club. 

He has been a certified tennis teaching professional since 1998, privately coaching tennis players, often at $50 an hour.

In 1985, he earned an associate’s degree at Spokane Falls Community College. From 1988 to 1991, he attended Gonzaga University ‘s education program.  Working as foreman at Safeway for 10 years, he put himself through Eastern Washington University, earning a bachelor’s in exercise science in 1998. 

From 1998 to 2008, he started his own business as a tennis pro. From then until 2013, he was an assistant pro at the Spokane Club and began working at the Spokane Racquet Club 2008.

The East Central Community Center has operated since 2012 as a nonprofit under the East Central Community Organization (ECCO) Board, which took over from the city as fiscal managers of the center.

With the shift to ECCO in December 2012, city funds dropped from $900,000 to $325,000.  Programs that had been free for 35 years, now have to be funded in part by fees on a sliding scale. 

“We are trying to change a mental philosophy.  With a third of the budget, we have to do more with less money and less staff, building a grassroots program with new ideas,” Kevin said. “We just added four more kids from Sheridan, so we know we’re on the right track.”

Along with the after-school and summer programs, the center offers an adult developmentally disabled program, senior program, food bank, SNAP, WIC and a new Women’s Business Center.  Each has something to help people empower themselves and others.

There is a monthly sliding fee for children to participate in the after-school program.  Families on reduced breakfast/lunch pay less, and families who volunteer pay even less.

“It’s an opportunity for parents to invest in their children’s future, the neighborhood and community center programs,” Kevin said.

“The East Central Community is in a unique neighborhood with unique challenges,” he said.  “It’s the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in Spokane.   Programs reach people of European-, African-, Asian-, Pacific Islander- and Latin-American backgrounds.  Addressing the varied demographic needs is important because the children are future leaders.”

To recruit participants, Kevin develops relationships with nearby schools and students by volunteering to mentor students in spelling, math and reading, and to teach fitness and health at Stevens and Franklin Elementary Schools.

The after-school program runs from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.  It offers homework help, art, music, architecture and engineering, sports and dinner.  A van picks up children at Franklin, Sheridan, Lincoln Heights and Stevens schools.  A bus picks up students from Sacajawea.

“Children need to bring homework to be in the program,” he said.  “It’s homework first and sports second.  Our goal is to strengthen literacy, reinforce teachers and nourish a love of reading.”

He continues to recruit children for the after-school program, because as more come, he can add programs in music, architecture and engineering, ballet and clay art.

For two summers, Kevin met five days a week with children in the Ben Burr Summer Camp and a Summer Tennis Camp.

“I teach a philosophy I learned at Gonzaga: to be fair, firm and friendly,” he said.  “Most kids want to do well.  I let kids be kids, but I expect them to do well.”

Kevin finds coaching harder now than five years ago with the saturation of social media.

“Media highlights the negative, the flash in the pan, not long-term values or working hard,” he said.  “Media bombard kids, so I spend much time on discipline to encourage their passion to learn. 

“As a coach, I look for success on a larger scale,” Kevin said.

A tennis pro colleague once told him he would have to leave Spokane to become a successful tennis pro.  His mother, however, had told him that character and relationships are more important than money. 

“When a person makes something happen where it’s not likely to happen, that’s a confirmation,” he said.

This work has helped him find his role in the community.

“This is where I should be, helping kids,” he said.  “If the program I offer for a seven-year-old builds confidence, develops character, challenges the mind, gives courage and teaches perseverance, then I’m in the right place. 

“Whether parents pay $300 or $20 or less a month for me to give their child tennis lessons, I expect the child to do something,” said Kevin.  “2014 is about more than Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream speech in 1968.  It’s about what we are doing now to change lives of children and youth for generations to come.” 

For information, call 808-2126 or email katblack29@gmail.com.



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