Lack of funds threatens Boys and Girls Club

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A decision could be made as early as today as to whether or not the Boys and Girls Club of Pike and Surrounding Counties will have to close its doors to children during the summer months.

“Troy has just not found the importance in this Boys and Girls Club, yet,” said Pamela Nealey, club president. “They haven’t grasped the fact that we have got to come together as a community for these children.”

Despite some generous local donors, Nealey said the Troy-based club hasn’t found the support she’s seen in other communities where organizations and groups such as the United Way and Kiwanis Club are main supporters.

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“I have visited all of the service clubs in the area to explain to them how important the club is to kids, but we don’t seem to be getting through,” Nealey said. “We can’t let this club close, not even for the summer.”

Club Board of Directors President Gary Fox said he’s hopeful that last minute donations or creative thinking will help keep the club open year round, but he has to consider longevity.

“We started last summer with about $40,000 in the bank and so we had a really great summer. Kids were able to take field trips. We were able to make payroll,” Fox explained.

Funds were low when students started back to school in August and the financial situation didn’t improve.

“We’ve been barely keeping our head above water during the school year,” Fox said. “I am getting nervous going into the summer with no cushion.”

Fox, along with Nealey and other board members will meet todayto decide the fate of the club during the summer season.

So far, about 20 children have registered for the summer term. For $150 for previously enrolled students and $250 for new students, two hours of academic tutoring, lunch, snacks, some field trips, a T-shirt, athletic activities, mentoring and creative learning opportunities are provided. The public housing authority pays a portion of that fee for children who live in public housing areas.

“I am a single mom, so I know how tight money can be, but that’s not a lot of money for a summer program,” Nealey said, “especially compared to Boys and Girls Clubs in other areas and compared to daycare.”

“We are providing programs for all children,” Fox said. “Most people think it’s just for housing children, but it’s open for all children.”

Fox said that almost all of the kids enrolled in the Boys and Girls Club after school program last year made at least the A and B honor roll. That achievement, coupled with prevention programs that teach students about drugs, sex and self-esteem, is evidence that the club is a community asset.

“We’ve got better students in the schools and, I think long term, we will have better citizens in the community,” Fox said.

Nealey said she’s hoping for donors to step out into the light today in an effort to keep the club open during the summer.

Nealey said, “To me, closing the club is not an option. It’s just not.”

To volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club of Pike and Surrounding Areas or to donate supplies or money, call (334) 770-2582.