OAKHURST — A valuable community resource for area youth is closing at the end of this month — and an emergency meeting has been scheduled to try to keep the temporary closure from becoming permanent.
The Oakhurst chapter of the Boys & Girls Club of Fresno County announced on its Facebook page Thursday that it will be forced to shut its doors June 29 “due to a lack of funding.”
“The club will be closed during the summer and possibly indefinitely,” the message states.
A “Call to Action” emergency meeting to try to put together a plan to save the club is scheduled for Monday, June 17, at 5 p.m. at the Oakhurst Boys & Girls Club, which is located at 40094 Indian Springs Road.
The meeting is open to the public and will include member testimonials about the club’s positive impact on the community and will also solicit ideas for generating the necessary funding to reopen the facility, according to Diane Carbray, president and CEO of the nonprofit Fresno County Boys & Girls Club.
Carbray said the decision to shut down was spurred by annual increases in wages for staff, the need for facility repairs and changes to supervision requirements that are more costly to institute.
“Recent increases in the minimum wage have really hurt nonprofit organization like ours,” Carbray notes.
The Oakhurst club, which for nearly two decades has been a safe, supervised after-school alternative for area youth, currently serves more than 400 area boys and girls each year.
Open weekdays from 2-6 p.m. for youth ages 6 to 18 years old, during the school year the club sees an average of more than 80 members come to the facility every day after school to participate in arts, sports and educational programs, Carbray says.
Club members also receive daily, one-to-one help with their homework and support with SAT prep and college enrollment.
Jennifer Simmons, the manager of the Oakhurst club, said on Facebook: “We have amazing Youth Development Professionals who encourage our members to stay in school, exhibit positive behavior and believe in themselves so they reach their full potential.”
As much as 90 percent of the club’s annual operating budget comes from donations from area service clubs and businesses as well as from private individuals.
Boys & Girls Club of Fresno County operates 16 clubs in the Central Valley. All of the facilities are located in Fresno County except for the Oakhurst club, whose finances are actually administered by its own separate board — the Mountain Area Youth Organization (MAYO).
Doug Macaulay, who chairs MAYO, is currently in the process of trying to reorganize the nonprofit’s board of directors.
Macaulay’s father Archie founded MAYO, partnering with the Fresno County Boys & Girls Club to start the Oakhurst club in 1999. Local residents Angie Pizelo and Todd Miller were also instrumental in getting the club started, recounts Macaulay.
Under the terms of the original agreement, Fresno County Boys & Girls Clubs provides staff and programming at the Oakhurst club while MAYO handles all of the finances.
The organization leases the building for the Oakhurst club for $1 a year, according to Macaulay.
Carbray says organization officials “have been agonizing for some time over this decision to suspend operations in Oakhurst.”
“We’ve been loaning them money for a while now and we just don’t have the funds to keep doing that,” she explains. “It hurts our other clubs. Hopefully, suspending operations for 90 days will help MAYO reorganize and stabilize their financial situation.”
Carbray shares that the MAYO board “is really trying to get traction with local service clubs” to help reopen and support the facility. “Hopefully, this emergency meeting next week will be the first step in turning things around.”
Doug Macaulay says he’s already received “a commitment from Rotary for substantial funds” and plans to approach other local service clubs for support — and also to fill permanent positions on the organization’s board.
“We just don’t have the breadth on the board we need to right now. The board members’ main job is to raise funds for the club. We need to energize the board a bit and get something in place to keep this situation from reoccurring.”
Macauley says Simmons will remain employed by the club’s parent organization while the search continues for a “long-term solution” to turnaround facility’s financial deficit.