Hoping for Support

GLOVERSVILLE – The Gloversville Boys & Girls Club formed in 2008 and has been offering programs that have served more than 500 youths for the past six years.

Now, however, the future of the program is contingent on the availability of funding.

The National Boys & Girls Club Grant funding no longer will be available with the 2014-15 year, club officials say.

The club is seeking help from business owners and residents to raise $100,000 to continue the daily program at the Gloversville Housing Authority and potentially open a new teen center at the Senior Citizens Service Center of Gloversville & Fulton County.

“We’ve lost our funding from a grant and we are challenged keeping our doors open,” said Donna Lewis, who was elected chairwoman of the Board of Managers during the annual meeting. “We are going to have some problems in the future if we don’t get the support. We had to close our summer program and Park Terrace program to save money and keep our doors open until June, and after that, we will have to close.”

However, she said the club is regrouping and wants to open a new teen center in September.

The club Wednesday also presented awards at the Board of Managers annual meeting Wednesday evening.

The teen center, which would be known as “The Club,” is an effort to keep children in the Boys & Girls Club program as they get older. According to meeting documents, to open the teen center, the club would need to allocate approximately $75,000 toward the teen program operations. The site would aim to serve about 75 members each year, with an annual attendance of 15 to 20 teens.

The club would set a goal to increase attendance by 20 percent annually and employ two part-time and one full-time staff professional.

Officials said the teen center would feature national and local programs.

If the organization can raise the money, “The Club” would be open Tuesday through Friday from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. and Saturday from 6 to 10 p.m.

Lewis presented the plans and addressed the need for this type of program.

She said with the closing of the YMCA, YWCA and Jewish Community Center, today’s young teens have no good place to go in the community, which can lead to some of them getting into trouble.

“Our program isn’t geared toward teens, and we tend to have our program geared toward elementary school, and we have lost many of these kids,” Lewis said. “We need to know that the foundation we are laying today is going to be carried on throughout.”

She said if the Boys & Girls Club has the programs and venue to carry children from their youth through high school, the local high school graduation rate would improve.

This past year, the Boys & Girls Club served more than 140 youths, but it needs to adapt to make sure those who attended follow it through until graduation, Lewis said.

“This facility would be a stepping stone for the Boys & Girls Club,” Lewis said. “We have an opportunity to partner with the senior center and foster an intergenerational program.”

Eugene Reppenhagen, the president of the center’s Board of Directors, said he believes this is an ideal opportunity for the senior center to expand its uses and help local youths.

Lewis said by providing age- appropriate, engaging activities for teens, this endeavor would grant youths access to higher educational opportunities, improve their quality of life and build their capabilities to become productive, responsible and caring citizens.

The Boys & Girls Club also offers a daily program at the Gloversville Housing Authority from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 1 to 6 p.m. during school holidays and vacations. That program will conclude next Friday and needs $25,000 to operate next year. It usually runs on a September to June cycle.

That program, which is open to all children, gives youths the opportunity to participate in activities, get help with homework and learn about the importance of nutrition, officials said.

On Wednesday night, the Boys & Girls Club presented a number of awards, including: Youth of the Year, Makayla Babcock; Volunteer of the Year, Vincent DeSantis; Community Support Award, Sue Cridland of HealthLink Littauer; Business of the Year, James Landrio of the Holiday Inn; Parent of the Year, Maura Kuehling; Above and Beyond Award, Theresa Hernandez; and Silver Knights, the Gloversville Housing Authority and the Gloversville Business Improvement District.

Levi Pascher can be reached at lpascher@leaderherald.com.