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The $120,000 question

Boys & Girls Clubs may be forced to close one facility If ‘angel’ doesn’t appear

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Park County is facing a high hurdle, and if it can’t clear it, board members may have to make a tough decision next year.

Chief Professional Officer Tina Bernard said unless $120,000 is raised by spring, one of the two clubs in Powell and Cody may be closed. People and businesses in both cities have helped financially, but the club is still short of money.

“All donations have been awesome. The public has really stepped up since we put out the plea,” Bernard said. “However, it’s still not enough. We’re still looking at closing one of the two clubs.”

The club owns the Powell building, while it still owes about $140,000 on the Cody facility, she said.

“That goes a long way for Powell, that we don’t have a mortgage on this building,” she said. “So obviously, Powell would be ahead of Cody on that point.”

The city of Powell, working through the Moyer Foundation, raised money to pay off the mortgage for the Powell building.

Bernard said the board of directors will decide in the spring if they must shut down one of the clubs. They’re still hoping for a large donation or donations to come in and make that decision moot.

“I’m trying to stay optimistic about this right now,” she said. “We have been in trouble before, but some angel drops out of the sky for us, and that’s what we hope for again.”

The club announced earlier this year it was in trouble.

For five years, an annual $142,000 grant from the state Department of Education, provided through the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, “kept our doors open in Park County,” Bernard said. The federal program is being reduced by $59 million.

“We are losing that grant,” she said. “That grant is up April 30, 2014. So that is where our shortfall is coming in. At this point, federal grants are hard to come by. If the money’s not there to apply for, we can’t apply.”

The club’s budget is about $450,000. Without that grant, it will be about $120,000 short. That’s in spite of laying off staff, dropping programs and raising fees.

“It’ll totally be up to the board to what we do,” Bernard said. “And obviously we’ll be meeting on that through the end of the year.”

One of the clubs may be closed on May 1, she said.

“That’s the fact. That’s the way it is,” Bernard said. “If the community doesn’t step up, if people don’t step up, that’s the reality. We’re down to the bare minimum.”

Some businesses and people have tried to close the gap, Bernard said.

Board members have made donations that range from $5,000 to $11,000. First Bank of Wyoming gave $5,000, Powell Elks Lodge 2303 donated $2,000 and Food Basket IGA also provided $2,000, Bank of the West donated $1,000, and other businesses have offered employee- and employer-match donations as well.

Elks Lodge Exalted Ruler Chad Iverson and Secretary Lea Ann Bucher presented a check for  $2,000 to Boys and Girls Club this summer.

“The donation came from Elks National Gratitude Grant, which offers The Elks the opportunity to serve  our community and to support local, charitable activities,” Bucher said.

Much of the money has come from Powell, but the Cody Rotary Club pledged $15,000, with gifts of $5,000 each year for three years at Christmas.

The Hooligans Motorcycle Club did a fundraiser in a park and raised $347, Bernard said. A Powell family is planning to donate money from a yard sale, she said.

“There’s all kinds of people trying to come out and do things for us, and we really, really appreciate that,” she said.

The club also makes money by renting its facilities, and it receives money through endowments, including one that Bill Price of Powell set up through the Northwest College Foundation. That $1 million endowment provides a quarterly growth payment based on the stock market, Bernard said.

The club pays $1,600 per month for the mortgage on the Cody facility. Its utility bill runs $7,400 annually for the Powell club, and $8,600 in Cody. In addition, there are liability insurance payments and other bills, as well as the salaries for employees.

People who donate money help pay those bills, and give Bernard, the staff and the board hope it will be able to clear the fiscal hurdle it faces.

“We really very, very heavily rely on that to come from the community. All Boys and Girls Clubs are set up to operate that way,” she said. “But people can’t give if they don’t have it, and donations have dropped a lot in recent years.

“They have come up a lot this past year with our plea for help, and we are very, very grateful for that,” Bernard said. “That is how we got through the summer.”

People also can help out by volunteering, especially as the holidays approach, she said. They can do special crafts or provide presentations for the 500 kids who are served at the two centers.

“Volunteers are always needed,” Bernard said.

They can also “pluck a little card” from donation trees at the two clubs and pledge to provide something that is needed. “People can help that way,” she said.

Bernard said while she knows people may be growing weary of hearing cries for help, the reality is that the clubs play a crucial role in providing after-school and summer programs for kids, as well as a positive place for them to go. Drug- and alcohol-awareness and prevention programs also are offered to club members, she noted.

There’s no doubt in her mind the two facilities play an important role in Powell and Cody. That’s why the idea of closing one or the other is so painful.

“I am a very optimistic person. I try to stay on the positive,” Bernard said. “I hope a little miracle drops out of the sky for us and our $120,000 shows up.”

To make a donation, drop it off or mail it to the Powell club at 815 E. Fifth St., Powell, Wyo., 82435 or the Cody club at 308 16th St., Cody, Wyo., 82414. The phone numbers are 754-0202 (Powell) and 307-527-7871 (Cody).

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