Club seeks additional funding after grant expires in January 2019
By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN
FARMERSVILLE – This time next year, 300 children in Farmersville may be left without a safe place to go while they wait for their parents to get home from work.
Earlier this month, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias announced that the funding used to operate the Farmersville Boys & Girls Club for the last two years will be exhausted in January 2019.
“We know that people like to support programs and projects dear to their heart, and for people who care about the future of children, the Boys & Girls Clubs provide much-needed support and encouragement to kids in rural communities,” said Galen Quenzer, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias, which oversees seven clubs in seven communities throughout Tulare County.
Every day 80 children ages 6 to 18 enter the doors of the Farmersville Boys & Girls Club to study, play, create, and engage in their community for just $10 per year. The club’s 360 members have been able to enjoy health and fitness programs, character and citizenship programs and academic enrichment programs under the direction of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias because of an agreement city leaders made in 2015 to provide grant funding to run the Club.
The city applied for and received a state Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) that provided more than $223,000 over a three-year period to operate the Farmersville Club. Quenzer said it is unlikely that the city would receive another CDBG grant and the city’s budget doesn’t have enough unrestricted funding to provide the $80,000 the club needs each year.
In order to find alternative sources for funding, Quenzer held a public meeting on Jan. 23 at the Farmersville club, located at 623 N. Avery Ave. in Farmersville, to talk with prospective donors about the need for the club and the need for funding to continue its programs. Only a handful of individuals showed up and none were able to offer significant funding to the program.
“We are looking for people who just want to invest in the future of Farmersville through these kids,” Galen Quenzer, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias, said. “We have found it to be most successful and efficient to update the community about our kids’ progress and to encourage involvement and financial support.”
Funding is hard to come by in the small town as one-third of residents live in poverty and there is little to no public funding for youth programs. Afterschool programs funded by the state are overcrowded and there is not enough businesses in town to generate significant tax revenue for either the school district or city hall. Quenzer said the club has begun preliminary conversations with some of the businesses in town and hope to find several major donors to help meet the need in Farmersville.
“I feel confident that we will get the funding together,” Quenzer said. “There are a lot of generous people in Tulare County and we have been able to operate a club here for more than 10 years.”
Quenzer said that 93 percent of all funding goes directly to youth development programs, including professionals who work alongside the kids in the clubs. Some develop sports programs, some dedicate themselves to academic programs and homework support, and others help children develop their interest in the arts and technology. The remaining 7 percent of funding covers overhead.
Outside of the CDBG funding, the Farmersville Club has relied solely on individual donations and several fund-raising events held throughout the year. Anyone interested in donating can do so online at bgcsequoias.org or by mailing a check to the Boys & Girls Club of the Sequoias, 1003 San Juan Ave., Exeter, CA 93221. In order to ensure the money goes to the Farmersville Boys & Girls Club, please note the donation is for Farmersville in the comment line of the web site or on the memo of the check.
Another important aspect of the Boys & Girls’ services is the development of service projects that teach children the value of community and how to be good citizens and contributors. For example, children in all of the Club’s communities participated in a march to honor the life of slain civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, Jan. 15, the anniversary of his birth. On that day, kids also completed several community service projects throughout the Club’s network. Other programs foster leadership, provide guidance on education and career choices, and provide support to help kids resist drugs and alcohol.
“We’ve been successful in the time that we’ve been in Farmersville,” Quenzer said. “We would like to be able to grow and serve even more kids.”
For more information on how to attend, contact the Farmersville Club at 559-594-1977 or the offices of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias at 559-592-4074.