Prineville Boys & Girls Club looks to city for support

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: November 02. 2006 5:00AM PST

As a single mother raising a daughter in Prineville, Natalie Kearns-Rapp said she has relied on the local branch of the Boys & Girls Club for the last couple of years.

Her 8-year-old daughter, Kiana, “loves going to Boys & Girls Club,” Kearns-Rapp said. “She actually requests, you know, ‘Can I go to Boys & Girls Club and not go home after school?'”

Kiana spends almost every afternoon at the Boys & Girls Club’s homework assistance class, Kearns-Rapp said, a program for which the group has sought funding.

The Prineville branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Oregon has been in front of the Prineville City Council twice recently to ask for funding to support the day-to-day operations of the nonprofit organization.

On Sept. 12, club officials asked the city for $15,000, Prineville Branch Director Carol Parker said.

After the council rejected that request, Parker said the club learned more about how the Prineville City Council awards money to organizations. It submitted a second request on Oct. 10 for $2,000, which was approved.

Parker said this was the first time that the club, which has operated a Prineville branch for eight years, has gone before the City Council to ask for money. But the club has had some financial woes in recent years.

In 2003, officials said the Prineville center would have to close unless it could raise more money.

“We are an important part of the livability of this city and of the economic stability and because of that we feel justified in asking for funds to run this program,” Parker said. “We’ve asked for and received funds from Crook County and from the city of Prineville and from a number of other folks, wonderful businesses in town that support us.”

The original $15,000 would have gone toward the club’s after-school “Power Hour,” which offers homework help for local students. The $2,000 will instead cover two days of the organization’s “Sponsor a Day” program, supporting a range of activities.

“Every community we’re in, we ask for that help from that community leadership – city council, county government, that type of thing,” said Diane Jaquith, office manager for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Oregon. “Nonprofits don’t have a continual funding base, we have to depend on the support of others to keep things going like that.”

The annual budget for the Prineville branch is about $168,000, Parker said. She added that the branch currently has several fundraising efforts under way and that without the support of the regional office “it would be very difficult to keep this program going.”

Robb Corbett, Prineville city manager, said that the City Council has about $25,000 set aside each year to put toward causes like the Boys & Girls Club, park projects and local student groups. Recently, councilors decided to limit each group to $2,000 a year and limit the total amount of money the council gives out each month to $2,000.

Corbett said he thinks it is important for the city to support organizations like the Boys & Girls Club.

“We regularly get approached with worthy projects and requests for funding … that you didn’t consider in your budget process,” he said. “This gives the council some flexibility in helping support these worthy projects in spite of the fact that we didn’t necessarily budget for them.”

Jaquith said she would like funding for the Boys & Girls Club to be a line item in the council budget for every city that has a branch.

“Because we have a club in just about every community we need the community behind it and it starts with the leadership of the community,” Jaquith said. “We look at this as an opportunity for the young people to see how leaders in their community have helped them.”

The Prineville club is not the only member of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Oregon to experience some financial difficulties. The La Pine branch had to close in early September because of a lack of funds.

Kearns-Rapp said she thinks the Boys & Girls Club helps prevent children from becoming involved with drug use and other illegal activities.

“The community needs to come forward and help them with sponsorships because it will help (children) for the rest of their lives,” she said. “This will help ensure that they will be the respectable people in our community – they’re not going to be the kind of people that the cops are picking up every day.”

The Prineville Boys & Girls Club is open from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on school days and from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays when there is no school and in the summer, Parker said. The club charges a $25 dollar annual membership fee, which is set by the national organization. Parker said there are about 200 children registered, out of which between 90 and 95 show up each day.

“Our goal is to make sure that any kid that needs a good safe place to be has one, and so we try to make it extremely affordable and that’s why we go to the community for assistance,” she said. “For most of our kids, the choice isn’t between day care and Boys & Girls Club, it’s between Boys & Girls Club and home alone.”

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