Boys & Girls Club tries to drum up community support
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Boys & Girls Club of Copperas Cove is in need of community support to keep their nonprofit status and to best serve kids in the community, according to Jon Charles, chief executive officer of the Boys & Girls Club of Central Texas.
The first of two public meetings discussing the future of the organization in Cove was held Thursday evening at the Copperas Cove Public Library. The second meeting will be held Monday, February 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the same location.
Currently, the board only has two board members. In order to maintain the 501(c)3 designation, the board needs a minimum of eight members, but Charles said he’d like to have as many as 15 board members. The requirements for board members are simple- they need to pass a background check and, while not mandatory, should live in the area.
“We need people to go advocate on what we’re trying to do in the community,” Charles said. Changing the culture of the board is a necessity, he added.
The organization is also looking for a new location for its elementary campus. Come May 31, the Boys & Girls Club’s lease with CCISD to use the Fairview side of Fairview/Miss Jewell Elementary School will be up.
The organization is part of the Boys & Girls Club of Central Texas chapter, which is associated nationally with the Boys & Girls Club of America. The Central Texas chapter has 27 sites in several different communities including Copperas Cove, Gatesville, Killeen, Harker Heights, Marlin, Georgetown and Lampasas.
Copperas Cove has three sites: one at Fairview, one at Copperas Cove Junior High and one at S.C. Lee Junior High. Between those three sites, the organization serves approximately 1,000 children each year and 230 children per day. It was estimated that the Fairview location saw around 115 kids the day of the meeting.
Each location is open 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. on school days and open 10 hours a day during the summer. The total cost is $100 per year, with an added cost if a child needs to use the Boys & Girls Club buses. All children get a meal, a snack and help with homework and tutoring. If a child is a military dependent, the cost is free, according to Charles.
The Boys & Girls Club of Central Texas serves more military connected children than any other Boys & Girls Club in the country, he added.
The organization makes money through different grants and a federal food program that pays the organization for each child they feed, but Cove’s club has not been able to find ways to raise money locally the way other communities do. For example, Gatesville’s club raises money through a resale shop, Charles said.
The problem that the organization is facing, in addition to needing a new location and new board members, is a lack of support from the community, Charles explained.
“Any nonprofit in any community, especially that has to do with children, that community has to get behind them to find a way to do it, because our kids are our greatest resource, and if we don’t find the ways to take care of them then there’s not going to be anything for them,” Charles said.
Grandparent Miki Ludwig, who has two granddaughters enrolled in the Boys and Girls Club of Copperas Cove, explained that the average person in Cove is faced with so many different organizations and churches looking for help, financially or time wise.
Charles agreed that there were other nonprofits in the area but stressed the importance of realizing that the organization is not competing with other nonprofits.
“It’s not competition because name me one more youth serving agency that’s serving kids every day,” Charles said. “There isn’t one and there won’t be one if we’re not able to figure this out.”
Of the 10,500 children served by the Boys and Girls Club of Central Texas, 60 percent are on free or reduced lunch, Charles added.
If the organization lost its nonprofit status, those children would no longer have a place to go, Charles said.
Ira Brand, who is a member of the Noon Exchange Club, further explained the importance of the organization, bringing up the point of how many parents wouldn’t be able to afford child care.
“It’s so affordable and it really helps that set of people who don’t have the resources, have a safe place to go,” Brand said. “We really are a big help to those single parent families, low income families, that we provide a service that nobody else is providing.”
At the end of the meeting, Ludwig picked up a volunteer application. He expressed his concern over the possibility of the club closing down and leaving his granddaughters and children like them without a place to go after school.
“I think it’s something that we need to keep,” Ludwig said. “I’m not a big volunteer person for things, but if this is what it takes to help keep the place, I’m going to.”