Saturday, February 13, 2016  
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Staff Writer

   The Grenada Boys and Girls Club will open after Labor Day, but the long-term future of the club is in jeopardy.
   After a summer programming hiatus due to lack of funding, board members and benefactors raised the $30,000 it took to get the after-school program up and running by Sept. 3, but they’ll have to raise a lot more to keep the club open.
   According to club officials, it will take $100,000 to operate the club for one year. That includes programming fees and three salaries as well as food and utility costs.
   “Churches, civic clubs and private donors really stepped up and saved us, for the time being,” said Judy DeHart, president of the board of directors for the Grenada club.

In the Red
   National and regional officials were prepared to close the club if funding didn’t come through. At an emergency meeting earlier this month, Chief Professional Officer Jeremy Deming emphasized that the Grenada club must become financially self-sustaining.
   “This club is $104,000 in the red, and the organization is hesitant to put money into it,” said Deming. Other clubs in the Delta region have been supporting the Grenada club with their surplus revenue, according to Deming. Those clubs include Greenwood, Itta Bena, Jonestown, Lexington, Yazoo City and Tunica.
   Saving the Grenada club will mean educating the public about the organization’s worth and building relationships with industries, civic clubs and private donors, those who can provide the financial lifeblood to keep the club open, Deming said.

Getting Involved
   Concerned citizens who attended a meeting earlier this month admitted they hadn’t done a good enough job spreading the word about the services the club provides.
   “I think we have a disconnect between the community and the club,” said Ward Three City Councilman Lewis Johnson.
   Mayor Billy Collins agreed.
   “We’ve not sold the community on the worth and value of this organization,” said Collins. “Some people think of it simply as a form of baby-sitting. It’s not. There are structured programs, all types of learning opportunities, tutoring, computer skills, character-building exercises and all sorts of constructive activities that take place there, for a very minimal cost.”
   Some 200 children ages 6-18 are on the rolls at the club, according to officials, and in recent years around 90 have participated  in the daily structured after-school activities and tutoring.

For the full story, see the printed edition or the online edition of the GrenadaStar.

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