Sun, Dec. 15

Boys & Girls Club out of money<br><i>Cottonwood club in danger of closing soon</i>

Staff photo by Philip Wright

LOCAL motorcyclists are volunteering time and money to do some painting and remodeling at the Boys & Girls Club of Cottonwood. Biker Billy Storms was busy spray painting in the club's recreation room.

"We're broke," said Elizabeth Heaney, branch director for the Cottonwood club.

The administration office of Boys & Girls Club of Northern Arizona has already closed the club in the Village of Oak Creek and suspended its support of the Teen Center in Sedona.

The measures were taken in response to an emergency meeting of the board of directors. Boys & Girls Club of Northern Arizona has operated four clubs: West Sedona, Village of Oak Creek, Teen Center in Sedona and Cottonwood. That number is now essentially down to two clubs, including the branch in Cottonwood.

In a press release, the administrative office in Sedona announced the budget problems.

"The last three years have financially been difficult for our organization," the release stated. "In each of those three years we have spent in excess of $150,000 more than we have received."

Heaney said the Cottonwood club serves about 200 children, with a minimum daily attendance of 88 children.

Even with the current financial crises, Heaney said she welcomes the changes that have come out of the dire situation. "We'll all have separate bank accounts," she said. "But that's a good thing because most Cottonwood people can see exactly where their money is going."

She said that has been a serious problem in the past for donors who did not like the idea that contributions and funds from Cottonwood went into a general fund, which included the three Sedona-area Boys & Girls Clubs.

"We're going to break loose now that we're independent," Heaney said. "Nothing goes into the general pot anymore. People want the money to stay in the community."

Heaney said she is hitting the streets trying to raise money to keep the Cottonwood club in operation. She believes that with a little luck, the Cottonwood Boys & Girls Club will not have to close down, even temporarily.

"I don't want to spook the people," she said. "Many of them depend on us being open. We can be self-sufficient here."

Heaney said the Cottonwood club has never had the big donors that the clubs in Sedona always seem to have. "We don't have the $20,000 donors," she said. "But we have widows who write checks for $10.

"This little town clings together when push comes to shove," Heaney said.

One program that Heaney is starting in order to raise additional funds for the Cottonwood club is the Adopt-A-Child scholarship program.

"People can sponsor a scholarship for a child or a whole family," she said. Membership to the Boys & Girls Club of Cottonwood is $25 per child, and program fees cost an additional $30.

"But in Cottonwood, 75 percent of our kids are on scholarship," she said. That's why finding donors to help with scholarships is so important to keeping the club open.

"They can help with a partial scholarship by donating whatever they can, even $10," Heaney said. "The scholarship donations could go all the way up to $500 or even a $1,000. We're asking people to give as little or as much as they can give."

Timing is critical now because the number of children served by the Cottonwood club will increase significantly during the summer months.

For information or to make a donation, call Elizabeth Heaney at 639-3057.

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