New Maple Valley Community Center director impressed with close-knit community
By TJ MARTINELL
Covington Reporter Reporter
October 10, 2012 · Updated 9:32 AM
Mark Pursley wants to learn more about Maple Valley.
As the new executive director of the Greater Maple Valley Community Center, he’ll have plenty of opportunity to do so.
“I am here to learn the culture of Maple Valley and of its strengths,” Pursley said. “I am so impressed with the quality of people I’ve met, the whole community.”
“We were extremely impressed by his background and experiences,” said Syd Dawson, the community center board president, in a statement. “The center is fortunate to have Mark to continue our mission of enriching our community through quality human services and social activities.”
Pursley, who lives with his wife in Renton and is the son of a retired Air Force officer, already has 23 years of directing experience under his belt, working for the Boys and Girls Club of America. He first started working for BGCA in Oregon after graduating from college with a degree in psychology. After a year there, he moved to Washington, where he worked at several clubs in Ballard, Mercer Island, Federal Way, and then White Center in Seattle, where he worked for 17 years. During that time, he served in a variety of directors which, he said, gave him exposure to the human side of programming and activities, which is different from parks and recreation.
He said he also discovered the influence people can have on youth and the community.
“The impact we can make is fulfilling, gratifying, and needed,” he said. “It feels good to make a difference.”
Pursley later transferred to Auburn, where they had hoped to build a new club. When the financial resources were not available, he helped coordinate the construction of a gym in coordination with the city and community center.
“Let’s do it right the first time,” he said.
He also worked with the city of Seattle for three years, working with local community organizations to reduce gun violence.
Pursley replaced Lynn Roberts, who stepped down in the spring.
At the moment, he said, he is trying to become more educated about the city in order to help the community center better serve the area.
“The Boys and Girls Club, they are a national organization, but they mold their individual clubs to meet the needs of the community,” Pursley said. “That’s what I am doing, learning the strengths and needs of Maple Valley.”
Although he has only spent a week or so on the job, he said he is already amazed at the close-knit ties the community has through events such as the annual Truck or Treats, something he hopes to encourage through the community center.
“’We’ll be there’ seems to be the mantra of Maple Valley,” he said. “The collaboration is just incredible. It’s truly a community in the truest sense of the word.”
In a time when cities are cutting back on services, he also sees the community center in a position to step up and provide some of those services.
“We’re in this together,” Pursley said. “If we can make a difference in our community it will make a difference.”
Contact Covington Reporter Reporter TJ Martinell at email@example.com or 425-432-1209 ext. 5052.