The Funhouse Commons serves the urgent needs of young people and strengthens community bonds by providing a safe and stimulating environment where all can learn, discover, create, socialize, and be heard.
How it all began
The Funhouse was founded in September 2000 by local activist Jim Bredouw. He and his wife Anne wanted to construct a facility designed to inspire, teach & enchant kids, believing the philosophy that the best return on investment isn’t always measured in dollars. Investing in the future of children was the smartest investment they could make.
Originally, The Funhouse, a 501 c(3) organization, was designed and used as a children’s science museum. It served not just as a tourist destination, but as an educational workshop, a home-schooling center, a location for field trips, parties & community meetings, and as one of the primary hangouts of Orcas Island youth. It was a place where young people could enjoy each others’ company in a safe, stimulating & constructive environment.
In 2017, thanks to the generosity of the Henigson family, The Funhouse underwent a large building remodel, transforming it into what it is today: a youth-focused community learning center currently serving over 500 Orcas Island youth ages birth – 18 (that’s 70% of the Orcas youth population!). We never turn any families away due to lack of funds which means we rely solely on individual donations & grant support.
Meeting the needs of our community
The Funhouse is the only organization of its kind on Orcas Island. We fulfill our mission by providing research-based, best practices out-of-school-time programming, and expanded learning opportunities for island children and teens. Our core Afterschool, Summer Camp, Mentor, and Education Programs (including early childhood education) support youth gains in positive social/emotional learning, affirming peer/adult relationships, resiliency, self-efficacy, skill-building, and greater college/postsecondary education preparedness.
San Juan County is one of the least affordable counties in Washington State. Island wages for a number of Funhouse families are often insufficient to support their basic living expenses. Our rural island is a place where some families are not thriving due to domestic violence, neglect, drug/alcohol abuse, isolation, and poverty.
To address these serious issues, The Funhouse provides a Mentor program that serves as a form of mental health support; affordable out-of-school time programming for children during parents’ working hours; and youth workforce development and college preparedness to support career readiness and future economic stability. Additionally, The Funhouse serves as the community hub for the Coalition for Orcas Youth, a community prevention coalition formed in 2018, to help address/reduce destructive social behaviors (e.g., drug/alcohol abuse) in youth and increase community connectedness.
Children and families are at the heart of our organization.
We’ve been able to sustain our program for 20 years,
evolving with community needs.
Please consider making a donation today.
Funhouse Program Overview:
Out of School Time Programs
- Afterschool Program (Homework Club; literacy and math support; social/emotional learning, STEM and arts/crafts instruction; special sessions such as music recording, theater, and yoga; free play);
- Summer Camp and Out of School Days
- Teen Positive mental health / life-skill building programs parenting programs, which aim to enhance family protective and resiliency processes and reduce family risk related to adolescent substance abuse and other problem behaviors)
- Mentor Program (1-on-1 and group skill-building, arts mentor program)
Expanded Learning Opportunities
- College Preparedness Program (workshops/advisory sessions with college counselors & financial advisors; SAT Test Prep; College essay support; Henigson Public School Student Fund Scholarship)
- Youth workforce development opportunities (career development mentoring and skill-building; Funhouse Junior Staff program)
- Annual Science Fair
- Early childhood learning opportunities: Infant playgroup (0-5 yrs)
“We don’t have extended family here on the island and the Funhouse fills some of the functions of a family for us. I feel less isolated knowing that the Funhouse is here for me when I need it.” – Funhouse Playgroup Parent