TAKE 5: B&G Club has served for nearly 2 decades
This week, we Take 5 with Bo Hedrick, the executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sanford. A native of Catawba County, Hedrick graduated from East Carolina University in 1993 and began working in Boys & Girls Clubs in 1989. He’s been the Lee County executive for the clubs for 16 of the 19 years they’ve been existence, taking a three-year break to work on the National Boys & Girls Clubs staffs in Atlanta and in Jackson, Miss. He’s a member of the Jonesboro Rotary Club of Sanford and Grace Chapel Church. In 2000, he was named the Southeast Region “Rookie of the Year” by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and in 2004 he received the organization’s national “Service to Youth Award.” His hobbies include fishing and woodworking.
You just implemented some budget cuts at B&GC. Why did this occur?
First of all, the club has experienced a reduction of $122,000 in income due to state, federal and local government grant decreases alone in recent years. Couple this with the local unemployment rate staying at or above 10 percent during the same period and one can understand the difficulty involved in raising more than $600,000 per year to keep the club operations moving forward.
Laying off a staff member with 13 years’ experience and cutting the administrative staff by 10 percent was an extremely difficult decision to make.
Secondly, I’ve been with the club for 17 of the 20 years that we have served Lee County. Over that time it seems from my prospective that the community at large has had the perception that we “always have what we need.” That has not been the case in recent years. Until 2011 the club had never borrowed money. We have had to borrow every year since then to support operations. In fact, just last year we borrowed more than $70,000 to ensure that we could keep our services intact and successfully start our teen STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) grant. The club just moved back into “the black” last month.
How will the cuts impact what services you’re providing to the community?
These cuts were made to management positions with only one of those having direct contact with the children we serve. That position and its responsibilities have been restructured, two part-time positions added at a reduced total cost and the result is no change to the children we serve. A major effort has been made to preserve the staffing pattern during the times of the day when we are directly serving the nearly 400 members with program offerings.
The club will celebrate 20 years next year. Can you sum up your impressions of the impact the club has had on the community?
I feel like we have stayed the course. We were started to address teen pregnancy, juvenile crime and school dropouts. Since 1995 we have literally registered more than 20,000 Lee County children ages 6 to 18. From this group we have had zero school dropouts, just a single teen pregnancy and only four arrests of active club members. We have also tried to stay current on the programming front and have put great effort into keeping the cost low for greater accessibility.
Just this past year we implemented two new STEM-based programs that involve more than 150 of our members. We have also kept the cost of membership low resulting in less than 10 percent of our annual income coming from the members’ families.
Why doesn’t the club increase the cost of membership to bring in more financial support?
This would defeat our main purpose, which is to be accessible to all the community.
The full school year membership cost is $32, and we are open every day of the Lee County Schools system’s calendar year. The summer fee is $32 to register and $25 per week (increased $5 per week for this upcoming year). This summer fee allows 57½ hours of access per week and since the club participates in the N.C. Summer Food program, there is no cost for breakfast and lunch. We keep this cost low so we can be accessed by all Lee County families.
If we are to address teen pregnancy, school dropouts and juvenile crime, we first have to be available to those children who may find themselves in a “high risk” family setting for these life-changing problems. The club belongs to ALL of Lee County and raising the cost to individual families would financially disqualify many children.
How are you implementing STEM programming into the club?
We are using two programs to deliver STEM learning.
First, all high school members of the club participate in our 21st Century Community Learning Center Above & Beyond program. In this program members must complete four components per measured session: 30 days attendance, pre- and post-testing, one Boys & Girls Clubs of America approved program, and one approved STEM lab.
Using the Lee County School System approved Paxton Patterson STEM lab modules, the club member must navigate a written curriculum, a matching computer based learning program, and hands-on experience in one of 10 elective labs — some of which include audio communications, flight technology, virtual architecture, video production, digital music, sports medicine and crime scene investigation.
Our second offering is for the elementary students. Through a grant received from Sea Research Foundation and FirstPic LLC, the club offers the Immersions Learning experience. Elementary members are paired with screened mentors to discover the methods used behind the physical and biological sciences in researching the wildlife under and above water in the polar regions. They also go behind the scenes to see what scientist use to successfully work in this rugged environment. They are currently working through the “Discovering the Titanic” curriculum to learn the scientific methods used by Dr. Robert Ballard to document the wreckage.
Are there funding opportunities for the community to help support the Club?
Absolutely! We have a few.
First, the club will hold its 13th annual golf tournament on May 6th at the Tobacco Road Golf Course. We still have a few player spots available for those who may be interested. We also are accepting “nonplaying” hole sponsors who will have on course company signage as well as their company name printed on the 144 T-shirts that are handed out.
Next, we are kicking off our “Summer Circle of Support” campaign to bring in summer program support. We have calculated that the summer cost is roughly $360 per child for the nine-week period. We are asking community businesses and individuals to consider making a $360 tax deductible gift to the club to help us to stay strong through the summer of 2014.
Who do we contact if we want to help?
The Club’s mailing address is Boys & Girls Clubs of Sanford, P.O. Box 2027, Sanford, N.C. 27331-2027. Any questions can be directed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or interested parties can call the club at (919) 776-3525.