Walworth County Boys & Girls Club still seeking site, funding
DELAVAN They took two mighty swings, but supporters behind opening a Boys & Girls Club in Walworth County haven’t yet had the financial firepower to connect.
Club supporters have been trying for at least a year to find a suitable location for the club.
(Read all of this week's stories from Walworth County Sunday HERE. )
The first pitch was the old Delavan fire station on Seventh Street. The second offering was another city-owned property near the Mill Pond.
“When the city brought up the option of the old fire station, we definitely were interested,” said Ashley Contreras, community outreach coordinator with the Delavan-Darien School District. “Then the city gave us the option of the other building, which was very appealing because of its great location near the skating park, ball diamonds and everything. But when we finished the assessments for both sites and got the final numbers on renovations etc., both were in the ballpark of $300,000. And that would be on top of our annual operating expenses, which are around $200,000.
“So, we’ve had to re-evaluate everything,” Contreras added. “Let’s face it, in this economy, it’s been really tough for us to raise funds and at this point neither of those options are doable. To get a Boys & Girls Club charter, we need to raise 1 1/2 times our annual operating budget … we need to prove we can be sustainable.”
However, Contreras and others aren’t giving up by any stretch, so they’re looking at possible budget-conscious and vacant storefront locations.
“We’ve looked at a couple of places, but we’re not sure yet,” Contreras said. “The important thing is that we want to serve kids as soon as possible, and Walworth County doesn’t have anything resembling a Boys & Girls Club and is sorely lacking after-school programming. So even if we don’t start with nearly the space we’d ideally like to have, we want to open and give people a visual, tangible club that shows who we are and what we’re about.”
Contreras said organizers have raised an estimated $40,000 so far. However, a major capital campaign will be required to make Delavan the hub of what they hope will be a countywide network.
“Delavan would be the first location because that’s where statistics show is the greatest area of need,” Contreras said. “But our goal is to open other locations as communities come on board. For us to be successful, this has to be a countywide initiative. ... the community has to take ownership of this effort.”
The group wants to open in some form by the 2012-’13 school year.
“That’s our goal, and if it happens sooner, that would be great,” Contreras said. “We’ve had a tough go of it, but we’re not discouraged. Our kids need and deserve this, and we’re determined to change things.”