As I reflect on how far our Boys & Girls Club has come over the last 23 years, I am filled with gratitude for the caring and generous community in which we live. Because of the generosity and ongoing support of our community, what was once a single Boys & Girls Club operating in a school cafeteria in Deltona has now spanned to cover two counties and eight clubs serving over 1,600 children annually.
We are different. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Volusia/Flagler Counties is there for kids and working families every day after school, with extended hours during the summer. Youth development is our only mission.
We provide services for kids even when their families are unable to pay the minimal membership fees. This means we receive more than 90 percent of our operating budget from donations and government grants. In the summer of 2015, an unexpected cut in state funding left us in a position of considering cutting back hours or closing some of our clubs. We launched a “Keep the Doors Open” campaign and our community stepped up in an amazing way: In addition to individual contributions to the campaign, philanthropist Gale Lemerand provided a $100,000 matching grant. Some of our largest corporate and foundation donations came from Halifax Hospital, Florida Hospital, the Horncrest Foundation, and the Earl and Patricia Colvard Foundation. This allowed us to raise well over $200,000 in a single month. Just as we closed out that successful campaign, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office donated $100,000 in forfeiture funds to help us keep services intact for the near future. .
That says something great about our community. Because of your support, our eight clubs throughout the dual-county area stood strong. Every club remained open and we continued to serve over 1,600 youth.
Thank you for believing in the Boys & Girls Clubs of Volusia/Flagler Counties. Our dedicated team works hard to ensure that every child receives the support they need and the results speak for themselves:
n Founded in 1992, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Volusia/Flagler Counties serves youth at eight clubs in Palm Coast, Daytona Beach, DeLand (Spring Hill), Deltona Harris Saxon, Holly Hill, Lake Helen, New Smyrna Beach and Edgewater.
n In 2015, 100 percent of club members participated in Project Learn, the organization’s educational reinforcement program. And 100 percent were involved in the components of the SMART Moves prevention program. No club members were arrested or became pregnant in 2015.
n In 2015 the eight club locations operated 10,641 hours, and youth ages 6-18 spent 658,714 hours in the clubs.
Florida has unique challenges for our organization, and the youth and families we serve. Two out of three people in Florida today were born somewhere else. The support of extended family, including uncles, aunts or cousins, is not available to many of our kids whose parents have come here to start over. We also have a very transient population, with many of our youth and families constantly moving or even homeless (a quarter of the homeless youth population in the country is thought to reside in Florida).
Our club members receive academic assistance daily, and their progress is monitored in conjunction with local schools. We understand that a community that works together on behalf of our children is a strong community.
As we move through the 21st century with new challenges facing our youth, we have re-focused our mission to provide members with three things: academic success with an emphasis on technology; character and leadership focus; and healthy lifestyles.
Our theme for 2016 is “Giving the gift of a great future." With the future of our members at the forefront of our hearts, we are committed to providing the services they need to build a great future. With your continued support, we are ready for the challenge.
— Sullivan is chief professional officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Volusia/Flagler Counties.