LETTER: Boys & Girls Club in need of support

Nov. 01, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

To the Editor:

Nineteen years ago, a small group of concerned citizens banded together with a plan to combat the school dropout, teen pregnancy and juvenile crime rate among our community's youth. These dedicated volunteers decided to create the Sanford/Lee County chapter of the Boys & Girls Club.

Since then, our local club has served over 19,000 children, an average of about 1,000 per year. Our members have had zero school dropouts, one teen pregnancy and a total of four arrests. Those statistics are overwhelmingly better than the general population of the same age group.

Through its programming, the club was able to attract grant funding from a variety of sources. Those sources, however, were predominately government based.

Recently, federal and state budgets have been cut dramatically. One of the byproducts of this is a drastic reduction in available funding for nonprofits like the Boys & Girls Club. We have to shift our fundraising model back to the local community.

Going forward, the club is going to change the way it measures success. We plan to address literacy rates, the skills gap facing employers in our area and the improvement of our members' education. The club will launch an educational program that will strengthen our member's skill levels in math, science and engineering. This program will make our members better prepared to pursue employment after high school, pursue an associate degree or move on to a four-year university.

The club plans to measure success on how well we prepare our youth for the rest of their lives and careers. We need your help in this endeavor.

Over the past three years, we have cut our club expenses by 34 percent while annual memberships have increased. That statistic is a testament to the ability of our staff and their dedication to the kids in our programs.

You can sponsor a child for the year for $700; this is a little under $15 per week. Consider that members pay only about 8 percent of what they cost our club. However, it costs us 92 percent more to serve them. Think about the difference that the club makes in the lives of its members.

Please consider the club in your annual giving and charitable contributions. We need your help to continue the great work of this organization.

Brad Simpson