My heart breaks with the closure of our Long Beach Boys and Girls Club, but I know the resolve within the board and staff to keep our club not only open but flourishing will prevail. There is no shame and no second guessing in closing club and working full-time on how to solve the concerns.

In 2019 the club went through big changes. First, we hired a new executive director. Then we needed to fill the program director position, and continue looking for new board members and keeping part-time staff to supervise and engage the members. We were doing all of this while struggling to keep financially afloat with bi-monthly payrolls, utilities, custodial care, insurance, etc. Then, we had the auction in May and the 21st Century Grant waiting to be written. Only one of those occurred.

We are one of the only nonprofits in the area who has a large payroll of employees. Our grants, annual campaigns and fundraisers have to keep that going and then help pay for equipment for programs and classes we want to offer. No easy task. Have you ever had to go ask businesses and individuals for money? In our small and generous community, we are asking for more money from the same pot.

While supported and appreciated, in my opinion, I think many in the community took the club for granted. We have been here since 2008, why would we ever go away? We only charged $25 for the entire school year when we finally raised it to $50 this September even when many other clubs charge two to three times this for an annual fee. Volunteers are like monetary supporters here. People pick their non-profit and work it. Some do more than one. I believe the community thought B&G Club was always solvent and being helped by our national Boys and Girls Club of America. Both of these parts are not true: volunteers are at a premium and the national gives us our name but no money.

We worked to keep the club open all year. Could we have been more transparent? — hindsight now.

Club, like school, is there for the kids — even if it is not ready. Having taught 40 years, I know how many times a district, a building, a classroom was not ready for day one, but here we go. Take a breath and do your best. The club however can close for a while, as a school district or classroom cannot.

I hope and pray, our great community gives them a chance to regroup and find the solutions without having to worry about the daily running of the place.

We’ve been through tough times before. When is it ever easy? I for one am looking forward to those days.

Thank you to the school district, board, staff, students, parents, and volunteers for past practices and present prayers, help and understanding. Stay positive and stay tuned.

MARTHA WILLIAMS

Past board member

Ocean Park

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