The weak economy is both a blessing and a curse for the Boys & Girls Club of Manteca/Lathrop.
Daily attendance is up 50 percent over last year’s levels as more and more families squeezed by the weak economy use the club at 545 W.
Alameda Street as a safe haven for their kids as they are no longer able to afford after-school day care while they are working.
At the same time, fundraising is down. It has been for the past year-plus. The club has responded by reducing staff and cutting expenses wherever possible. The club’s executive director – Charlie Halford – has never drawn a full salary opting instead to take just half of his pay from the day he started over a year ago so staffing critical to supervising kids wouldn’t be cut further.
Now the club finds itself in a position where they must make some tough choices. All involve cutting staff that would trigger either the closing of the Lathrop site or cutting back on hours at the main club in Manteca.
“We’re no different than government or business,” Halford said Monday. “The vast majority of our expenses are people who work with the kids.”
The club’s financial situation is putting a greater emphasis on the telethon that takes place Nov. 23-24. It typically accounts for 30 percent of the revenue needed to run the clubs that serve 1,500 youngsters from ages 7 to 18. The telethon last year barely made more than $100,000. The club needs to generate $120,000 next month or else it has no choice to undertake more cutbacks.
Many of the club’s biggest supporters from dairy farmers, retailers, and new home builders to construction firms have been hit hard by the economic slowdown.
Telethon organizers are hoping to secure more new smaller donors – anything from $10 and up – to help this year.
The club is also having a tough time securing enough volunteers through organizations or individuals to help with donations through the phone banks.
How it typically works is each person manning the phones comes in with donations already lined up or the contact numbers for enough people they know to generate $250 in an hour. Some use the strategy of asking 25 friends and relatives for $10 apiece while others ask 10 friends or relatives for $25 each. More often it is a combination of small donations and larger ones.
In an average year those people working the phones bring in between $30,000 and $40,000. With large donations expected to be down, the club needs to get even smaller donations.
Individuals or organizations interested in helping simply have to have their own phone list plus be able to man the phones for an hour block on either Monday, Nov. 23, from 5 to 8 p.m., or Tuesday, Nov. 24, from 4 to 9 p.m. The telethon on Comcast Channel 97 is carried live both days although the Tuesday hours are actually 4:30 to 11 p.m.
The balance of the money comes from larger donations as well as bids on silent and live auction items.
The club is also in need of auction items.
If you can help, contact Charlie Halford at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the club at 239-KIDS.
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An indication of the increased demand took place Thursday during the open house dubbed Lights after School Event that took place at the club.
Organizers were expecting about 100 attendees but ended up with 200 parents and kids with more than half not being current members.
The open house was designed to make people in the community aware of the club’s offerings.
The Boys & Girls Club offers a year’s worth of karate lessons, play in flag football and basketball leagues, have a safe place to hang out after school until as late as 8 p.m. with friends, play and do your homework for just $24 a year.
The $24 fee also includes Boys &Girls Club T-shirt. There is a break for families that have more than two children that would cost $48. After that, each additional child is $12 a year.
There are nearly 1,500 members between two sites.
School year hours are 3 to 8 p.m. at the main site at 545 W. Alameda St. and 3 to 7 p.m. at the Lathrop School site. On school year holidays, the hours are 10 a.m.to 6 p.m.
The club offers homework assistance, computers for doing school work, and various character building programs. It also offers a variety of recreation games, sports leagues, arts classes, or simply a safe place to spend time with friends.
For more information, call the club at 239-KIDS.