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New Light, Harsh Light Shining On San Fernando Valley Boys & Girls Club PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Terry, Contributing Writer   
Thursday, 03 May 2012 02:22

Facility Receives Five State-Of-The- Art Solar Units, But Club Also Facing Large Budget Deficit

MIKE TERRY/SFVS

Sylmar resident and former football star Anthony Davis returned to the Boys & Girls Club in Pacoima, where he was once a member, to help celebrate the new solar lighting units installed in the club's game room. Davis helped connect the club's board of directors with the Ciralight company, which donated five lights to the the club.

PACOIMA – What should have been a celebration here Monday, April 30, was yet another reminder of still tough economic times in the North East Valley.

The Boys & Girls Club was showing visitors the newly donated state-of-the-art solar lighting units illuminating the club's game room.

But during a club luncheon acknowledging the gift, club president and CEO Leroy Chase put the club's financial situation in another light – a stark one.

Chase said the club is currently facing a $200,000 deficit in its operating budget, and is desperately in need of additional funding or face staff cuts – even possible closure.

He said without new resources, he would have to slash the 26-member club staff in half. He has already started reducing the club's hours of operation, and is looking at other ways to keep its doors open.

"What hurts is, it appears society focuses too much on gang programs rather than programs that keep kids from joining gangs," Chase said. "We're about prevention; we're going on 47 years in one of the neediest communities in Los Angeles. But getting [financial] support sometimes is worse than pulling teeth.

"You can get money for a building, a school, or a clubhouse. But having a building doesn't accomplish anything. You have to have well-trained personnel that have a concern for young people and the community."

Chase said the club used to open at 7 a.m., and stay open until 8 p.m. Now "our basic programs are starting at 2 p.m., and go until 7 p.m. We are closing on Fridays. We may have to cut back further than that."

He said that included closing the club completely.

"We're in the process of a campaign to keep the club doors open. But we need money like yesterday," Chase said. "Our board members are making calls, trying to get additional funding. But our utility bills ($4,000 a month) are mounting; our insurance bill ($38,000 a year) should be in the mail today. And that's not serving one kid yet.

"It's the cost of doing business, we realize that. But we need more individuals to acknowledge we're doing the job; that we've been here 47 years. We need more people here to come see the club so they know what they're investing in. We want people to see what we are continuing to do, and to see it firsthand."

Before revealing the club's bleak financial situation, Chase and board members took time to thank and acknowledge former football star Anthony Davis, and Ciralight Global president and CEO Jeff Brain for the donation of five solar skylights for the game room.

Davis – who starred at the University of Southern California in the 1970s and who went on to play professionally in the National Football League and Canadian Football League – connected the club's board of directors with Brain and his Los Angeles-based green energy company. Brain agreed to donate the solar units, valued at $1,200 each.

Brain said each self-contained unit, which sits on the roof above the game room, uses a GPS tracker attached to a mirror that follows the course of the sun throughout the day. The mirror rotates, redirecting the sun's light into the room. Each unit produces the equivalent of 800 watts of florescent light, and provide for more than 10 hours.

Chase said the club wanted "to thank them for the skylights" and demonstrate how others cam get involved in bringing costs of facility down.

"The key is getting support from individuals though the city in order to help us make impact of young people," he said. "This Northeast valley, and families we serve, is one of the poorest. We're talking about those who are janitors, working in restaurants, secretaries … general labor. The majority of our members come from families of that nature."

He said the solar units, which were installed four months ago, were helping in cutting back utility costs.

But if there is no additional funding coming forth, those solar lights – and the others in the club – will be turned off for who knows how long.

If you'd like to donate to the club, you can visit them on line at www.bgcsfv.org, or send a donation to Boys & Girls Club of San Fernando Valley, 11251 Glenoaks Blvd., Pacoima, CA, 91331.

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