By Lauren Wanko
After today, kids at the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City won’t be able do to arts and crafts. Faced with about a $150,000 debt, the local board of directors decided to suspend operations. It’s upsetting to parents.
“This is a safe place for them to come and play with other kids,” said Amanda Embert.
“It’s horrible. We don’t want to be open and have to close,” said Boys & Girls Clubs of America Director of Organizational Development Peter Fleischmann.
The shutdown impacts the club’s 1,600 members. Upwards of 200 kids attend the after-school program every day. The Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City has been struggling financially for years with about a $150,000 to $200,000 yearly deficit.
“There were some lost grants, some lost community support, though most of it was because of grants they had maybe a three-year grant that went away. As grants went away, the organization was a little slow to curb services or make a different structure for the organization,” said Fleischmann.
Ten staff positions were terminated. A few employees are now only part-time. Fleischmann says the team’s now in crisis mode. They’ve brought in a consultant and national staffers to help restructure the Atlantic City Club. Executive Director Mikos Denson resigned Monday.
“I think between both he and the board of directions probably decided it was the best thing to do to make the change,” said Fleischmann.
“They need to get their house in order, they have to do some fundraising, they need build a board with more individuals that are going be concerned with long-term fundraising and they need to find an ED that has expertise in writing grants and raising money,” Atlantic City Mayor Donald Guardian said.
In February, the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City closed the other building it operates in town, which served about 50 kids a day. Those children were bused here for the after-school program.
The club typically offers a daily summer program to area kids along with an an after-school program. Now the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City is rallying the community for support, a community that’s already stepping up to the plate says Guardian.
“People are stepping up with donations,” Guardian said. “CRDA originally stepped up and built the building the Boys & Girl Club is now so they’re stepping back up to the plate.”
Councilman Marty Small became a member of this Boys & Girls Club when he was 6 years old. He attended for more than a decade and later ran the club for four and a half years.
“It’s no secret without the Boys & Girls Club I wouldn’t be here today,” Small said.
That’s why the councilman is preparing to launch a community fundraiser he says will generate $50,000 for the club. He’s presenting his plan to the board of directors tomorrow. The Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City needs $150,000 to offset their current debt and even more to reopen, which staffers are hopeful will happen this fall in Atlantic City.