2/11/2014 8:53:00 AM Hollow hall Boys & Girls Clubs close on Valentine's Day - for now
Program instructor Terry Fawley gets ready for the children at the Prescott Valley Boys and Girls Club on Loos Drive Monday afternoon. All three Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Arizona will close Friday, Feb. 14, for about a two-month reorganization period.
Courtesy Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
Program instructor Kathy Casey straightens up before the children arrive at the Prescott Valley Boys and Girls Club on Loos Drive Monday afternoon. All three Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Arizona will close Friday, Feb. 14 for about a two-month reorganization period.
Courtesy Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
By Briana Lonas and Sue Tone Prescott Valley Tribune
Valentine's Day will be anything but sweet for the kids attending the Boys and Girls Clubs in Prescott and Prescott Valley. Slumping funds and a series of financial issues have forced a temporary closure to the area Clubs as well as staff layoffs effective Friday. The clubs will reopen May 5.
According to the Club's media release, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Arizona, "like other non-profits, has experienced increased demand for services due to challenging, economic conditions at the national, state and local levels, coupled with reductions in charitable giving and grant availability."
Interim Chief Professional Officer Kathleen Gillis said all registered Club members in Prescott and Prescott Valley were notified at the end of last week when children took a letter home. In addition, mailed letters went out to every home.
"We felt it was in the best interest of the parents to also place a letter in the mail," Gillis said. She said she was not aware of the temporary closure until this past Friday.
Friday's closure will affect about 225 students using the after-school program. The Prescott Valley facility at 8201 E. Loos Drive has 125 registered children, with 40 more at Acorn Montessori School and 46 at the Prescott Club.
Ten employees have been laid off, and will be able to apply for their positions once the business reopens. Club instructors will stay until the end of this week to serve the children, Gillis said.
"This is going to be very difficult for the parents and staff. The hope is that when they both reopen, each facility will be more mission-driven and look more like a Boys and Girls Club," she said.
"I think it's terrible. There are a lot of families that depend on this. On top of that, we're given one-week notice. It's hard to make arrangements for your child in one week," said Prescott Valley parent Sarah Lanoue.
Gillis said the staff is very concerned for the kids, and she's hoping the Club can help relocate the children to other facilities or schools in the area. "We need to find a resource; I think it's going to be difficult to do that, and we'll give it our best try," Gillis said, adding that maybe the city or town could step forward with ideas.
Lanoue, meanwhile, is unsure where she'll place her daughter when the Club closes Friday. Currently, she pays about $80 a month to the Boys and Girls Club for the after-school program. She isn't sure she'll be able to find a replacement at a comparative price.
"It's very inexpensive. It's safe, it's convenient. And to take her to another daycare provider, it will probably be over $100 a month for 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.," Lanoue said.
Three HUSD schools have fee-based before- and after-school programs: Granville, Coyote Springs, and Humboldt Elementary. The district provides bus transportation for these students to and from the host schools. It has transported about 25-30 students to the Prescott Valley Boys and Girls Club, said HUSD Transportation Director Kim Porter.
Mardi Befort, director/owner of Kids' Corral at HES, which supported a B&GC program on its campus until five years ago, operates a before- and after-school program for about 20-25 children. Parents pay $90 per month for fulltime care, or about $5 per day, while drop-in care is $7 per day.
The Prescott Valley Club rented space this past summer at Mountain View Elementary School, connected by a sidewalk along Loos Lane, while the Club made repairs to the building, said Sue Ward, MVES administrative secretary.
"But we can't do that now. We have our own after-school programs and sports going on," she said.
The closures, Gillis explained, will allow the Club to restructure its finances and make necessary safety improvements to both Club buildings. Low registration numbers also hamper the Club's efforts to receive adequate funding at the state and national levels, Gillis said. The Club upgrades will allow for a higher capacity of participants, thereby increasing funding opportunities.
When the reorganization is complete, both Clubs no longer will charge monthly fees to families, only the annual membership fee of $25, and scholarships will be available to qualifying families to offset that cost. Gillis said that soon, the Clubs can take in the kids that need the organization the most. "We could not do this for many, many years," she noted.
The club's deteriorating economic conditions, club officials indicated, stemmed from a drop in financial assistance from the community, particularly following the Yarnell Hill fire, which saw a number of donations for families of the Granite Mountain Hotshots and residents of Yarnell, but few donations to other non-profits that operate year-round.
"In light of the recent tragedy in our community, many non-profits are suffering. Community resources, to some extent, are tapped out," Gillis said.
Former board president Rodney Edgmon served for five years prior to his recent resignation. He said fundraising for the club was never an easy task, but expects contributions to grow. "Clubs all over the nation, in rural settings like ours, have a difficult time," Edgmon said.
"It's been a heartbreak every day to charge people just to keep our doors open. This is the last thing we wanted to see happen. This is a rebuilding time for us," Gillis said.
Gillis extends the invitation out to the community for relocation assistance for the children. Her number is 928-776-8686.
Patrick Whitehurst, Prescott Daily Courier, contributed to the story.