Local Boys and Girls Club put on hold | ParkRecord.com

Local Boys and Girls Club put on hold

The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salt Lake is celebrating its 40 year anniversary this year. Unfortunately, the Park City branch won’t be taking part in the celebration. The organization put its Park City program on hold this fall.

According to a public statement issued by the Boys and Girls Club, they’re experiencing "a significant revenue shortfall" due to the unavailability of a federal grant this year. They hope the closure is only temporary, explained LeAnn Saldivar, president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salt Lake. She said that they have to be fiscally responsible, but they hope to reopen in less than a year.

The loss of federal funding is impacting all branches of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salt Lake. Saldivar said the grant came from the Department of Justice and is impacting clubs across the country. She said that they knew federal funding would be reduced this year, but suddenly losing the entire grant came as a huge surprise. Saldivar said that the Department of Justice has decided to do something else with the funds.

In the meantime, the Boys and Girls Club is in the process of seeking alternative funding. Saldivar explained that they are looking for lots of small contributions instead of one large donation, because that model is safer and less susceptible to loss of funding.

The Boys and Girls Club currently pays $18,344 for a nine-month lease of a city owned building in City Park, according to notes from a city council meeting held in Sept. 2007. The total operational cost for the Boys and Girls Club is $100,000 per school year, explained Saldivar.

According to Saldivar, Boys and Girls Club first opened in Park City in 2002 to offer after-school tutoring and homework help. The goal of the Boys and Girls Club, according to Saldivar, is to offer a fun, attractive, interest-based program. They don’t want to merely offer a service to parents, but they want kids to come because they want to, Saldivar explained. This is accomplished by offering interest-based activities in art, sports and fitness, and leadership. Once kids start coming, Saldivar explained, their hope is that they will form relationships with the staff, providing the participants another role model in their lives. A single mom who wishes to remain anonymous said that her son was even taught how to change a tire by one of the instructors who ended up being a valuable male role model to her son.

Saldivar said that the Boys and Girls Club has had a proven impact on members’ academics; they have a better chance to graduate high school and are less likely get involved in crime or gang activity.

The Boys and Girls Club is open to all kids in grades one through 12. A yearly membership fee to the Boys and Girls Club is only $10, Saldivar explained. The low-cost of the membership fee makes the Boys and Girls Club a valuable resource for families who can’t afford higher priced after-school childcare.

Lori Lange, a mother of two explained that she wanted to send her kids to the Boys and Girls Club this fall because it’s more affordable than sending her kids to Camp Falcon, which is an after-school program at Parley’s Park Elementary School.

After-school programs offered at Park City School District (PCSD) elementary schools cost $250 per month, explained PCSD director of community education Judy Tukuafu. According to the PCSD website these programs are full, but kids can be added to a wait-list. Tukaufu explained that PCSD after-school programs at the elementary schools differ from the Boys and Girls Club because they are more structured and don’t allow kids to just drop in.

In the past, 87 percent of the Boys and Girls Club members came from families whose income was at or below the poverty line. The Park City Boys and Girls Club welcomed a diverse group of students in the past, explained Saldivar. She said they had kids from affluent, middle-class and poverty-level families. Sixty percent of last year’s members were Hispanic, and 10 percent came from other minority groups.

Saldivar said that she sees a growing need for their service in the Park City area and that over 600 club-age kids reside within a one-mile radius of the meeting area at City Park. Of those 600 kids living near the meeting place, 100 come from low-income families. According to Saldivar, the Park City Boys and Girls Club had 185 registered members last year and saw an additional 200 kids participating in some form of the program during the year. Saldivar said they were averaging 40 kids a day.

To contribute or for more information, contact LeAnn Saldivar at (801) 322-4411.

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