DAYTONA BEACH — By Clayton Park - Local entrepreneur L. Gale Lemerand confirmed that he has made good on his pledge to donate $100,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Volusia/Flagler Counties after the community met his challenge to match his contribution.
A total of $210,077.69 was raised from 82 donors to replace the $200,000 in funding the local Boys & Girl Clubs organization lost as part of cuts to this year's state budget. The state had been the third-largest source of funding for the group, which operates seven clubs in Volusia County as well as one in Flagler County at Rymfire Elementary School in Palm Coast.
The organization also received additional funding help from the Volusia County Sheriff's Office, which recently donated $100,000 in forfeiture funds.
That contribution was separate from the organization's "Help Us Keep Our Doors Open" campaign and did not count towards Lemerand's matching funds challenge, said Lori Folsom, support services coordinator for Boys & Girls Clubs of Volusia/Flagler Counties.
In addition to Lemerand, other major contributors to the emergency fundraising campaign included Halifax Health, which donated $30,000, Florida Hospital, which donated $25,000, the Horncrest Foundation, which gave $20,000, and the Earl and Patty Colvard Foundation, which gave $10,000.
"We live in a generous and caring community," said Joe Sullivan, executive director of DeLand-based Boys & Girls Clubs of Volusia/Flagler Counties, in a written statement to The News-Journal. "To lose $200,000 in state support and have ... donors step up and raise more than $300,000 to keep our clubs open (is) making a difference with the youth and families that need us the most."
Boys & Girls Clubs of Volusia/Flagler Counties served 1,558 kids, ages 6 to 18, last year. The organization, with an annual budget of $2.1 million, employs 38 workers.
Lemerand said he decided to make his donation and issue his match challenge after reading a June 25 article in The News-Journal about the loss in state funding for the local Boys & Girls Clubs.
"It's a good cause," said the entrepreneur who owns or has a significant ownership stake in dozens of area restaurants including Stonewood Grill & Tavern, Peach Valley Cafe, Houligan's and Pie Five.
"I read The News-Journal and my heart goes out to them," Lemerand said of the Boys & Girls Clubs.
The organization's now-$100,000 budget surplus, thanks to the emergency fundraising campaign and donation from the Sheriff's Office, might be put into its endowment fund, Folsom said.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Volusia/Flagler Counties managed to avoid layoffs this year thanks to the fundraising efforts, she said.
While full funding has been restored for this year's budget, "we will have to replace the (lack of state) funds next year," Folsom said.
Chris Perkins, board president for Boys & Girls Clubs of Volusia/Flagler Counties, said the group plans to step up its community fundraising efforts next year in hopes of expanding its donor base to include more business leaders.
"We absolutely appreciate and are indebted to our local leaders. It speaks to what a wonderful community we live in," Perkins said.