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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : local July 22, 2014

3/2/2013 2:14:00 PM
Boys & Girls Club needs community support
Tuesday, the Boys and Girls Club will ask the City of Cottonwood for an infusion of cash. The organization is facing a financial crisis and is also looking for help outside the city government.
Tuesday, the Boys and Girls Club will ask the City of Cottonwood for an infusion of cash. The organization is facing a financial crisis and is also looking for help outside the city government.

Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter

To inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.

--Boys and Girls Club Mission

COTTONWOOD -- A lot of organizations across the country that do fine work want and need your extra cash.

Locally, devoting those extra funds just may pay for the future of children on your own street. Tuesday, the Boys and Girls Club will ask the City of Cottonwood for an infusion of cash. The organization is facing a financial crisis and is also looking for help outside the city government.

The club faces closure without community support. But the organization has an opportunity to double its money, thanks to a $25,000 matching grant from the national organization. The Cottonwood area needs to match that amount.

The Northern Arizona in the B&G title sounds a little grandiose today, since the only remaining location is in Old Town Cottonwood.

Some 20 years ago, a Sedona grandmother, Ruth Baland, first put out the call for a local Boys and Girls Club when it was clear her grandsons needed something to do after school. They needed to be off the street and have a positive and safe place to be with friends until mom got home from work.

The organization has core principles about developing productive, responsible citizens with strategies that include character building.

The same -- and perhaps greater -- demands remain today. It is often single-parent families that struggle the most to make ends meet. Daycare for the young ones is a necessity that often gets pushed to the side to make room for rent and groceries.

You end up with what used to be called "latchkey kids," a leftover expression from World War II. Parents are no longer working in factories pounding rivets. They may be working at housekeeping in a Sedona resort. What is left behind are children who have no parental supervision for part of the day and look to the street for their entertainment.

When the economy was still flush, people responded to the call and the Boys and Girls Club was a success. In 1996, Ruth Baland was heralded as "Citizen of the Year." The Sedona B&G operation was expanded to Cottonwood and the Village of Oak Creek.

The Friends of the Posse Grounds raised money and built a Teen Center in Sedona, which was operated by the Boys and Girls Club. The organization even owned a commercial office condominium.

But, times have changed and the economy has played a major role. With the shrinking job market, many families have moved away to where they can find employment. Donations diminished. The number of kids who attended programs at the Boys and Girls Club declined, especially in Sedona. But, Sedona was where most of the support originated.

The Village of Oak Creek club closed first.

Last year, when the director left to return to her home state of Washington, board member Connie Detrick assumed the leadership. She soon discovered that the non-profit organization was in financial trouble. Few kids were attending the Sedona Club, which was trying to support a costly Teen Center facility. On the other hand, the Cottonwood Boys and Girls Club branch had become its busiest location. It had 252 members last year.

"We had to raise fees to help pay the bills," said Detrick.

This past year, the Club advised the City of Sedona, which owns the Teen Center, that it would not return in the fall and the program was closed in May. The plan was to consolidate the Cottonwood and Sedona program into one and bus the Sedona kids to the Cottonwood facility, a one-time American Legion Hall. Cottonwood has been allowing the buildings use by the club, east of the Old Town Activity Park, for a dollar per year. One of the original supporters of the club was former Police Chief Pat Spence,

For 17 years, a major fundraising event, The Sedona Taste, funded the Boys and Girls Clubs' operation. With no more Boys and Girls Clubs in Sedona, Sedonans are looking for other uses for their philanthropy.

Many parents can no longer afford $60 per month the club charges. While some see the program as very affordable child care, it is much more than child care. The program follows a national standard for education and fun. The club offered 18 events last year and even takes its program into the schools.

Dedrick proposed forming a 20-member task force of the community with individuals taking specific roles to produce fliers and raise funds and other duties. She says, during the past year, the club has been restructured to reduce overhead. Assets like the Administrative Office condominium in Sedona have been sold. She now wants to establish a new foundation beneath the club. The first goal is to match the national grant while building stability under the organization.

Dedrick said during the first week of the new campaign, she got pledges for $5,500, but much more is needed. During the meeting, firefighters from Sedona and the Verde Valley offered to help through their charitable foundation.

For information about the Boys and Girls Club or to participate in the fundraising campaign, contact Executive Director Connie Dedrick at cdedrick@apositiveplace.org or Branch Director Phillip Van Gorp at 928-630-3057 or pvangorp@apositiveplace.org.

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