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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Boys and Girls Club in financial trouble

Despite the fact Paul Bewie Boys and Girls Club director Dennis Brown declared yesterday in an on-air interview with KVRE morning host Tracy Simpson, "the Boys and Girls Club will not re-open after its annual maintenance week because of a financial short fall," he still has a job.

Following an emergency board meeting last night, board president Scott DeBoer said Dennis Brown will be staying on with the club. DeBoer said "Brown has an impressive resume and was hired as a short term director bridging the gap and leading the way for a long term director with more energy."

Employees at the Paul Bewie Boys and Girls Club heard they no longer had a job over the radio. Yesterday several members of the staff walked out. Prospects looked gloomy.

But, following the emergency board meeting, DeBoer said, "we are in a significant financial pinch but we believe the club can go on. Realistically, we need $15,000 in the next couple of days, $35,000 to get us through September. We have good volunteers and a community that wants the club to succeed."

DeBoer said earlier in the day the staff has done a fantastic job with what they have but are hampered because the club cannot give them what they need to do the job.

DeBoer added the budget has significantly dropped over the past few years. The club needs more than just financial help, it needs to step up programming to do the best for the children.

DeBoer is confident the club will come up with the money it needs. The National Boys and Girls Club is sending a representative to meet with club officials today to investigate and give advice as to the direction to head.

This is not the first financial jam for the Paul Bewie Boys and Girls Club. The summer of 2012 the club found itself in similar circumstances. The staff had not been paid consistently. Survival was measured day by day.

In 1991, Bewie, then district governor with Kiwanis International and a resident of Hot Springs Village, saw a critical need for a safe place for children to go after school as their parents were still working. Bewie motivated dedicated parents, civic clubs, churches, business representatives, and local residents to join together in a cooperative effort to raise over one million dollars in cash and in-kind donations to create "The Positive Place for Children" in the North Garland County area. In the fall of 1991, 35 acres of land was purchased on Highway 7, just north of Hot Springs Village, and the North Garland County Youth Center was organized.

After affiliating with the Boys and Girls Club of America in 1994, it became the North Garland County Boys and Girls Club, the only rural club in the state of Arkansas. It was cited as the number one rural safe place for children after school in 1998 at the Arkansas Governor's state summit on volunteerism. Following Bewie's death in 2004, the name was changed to the Paul Bewie Boys and Girls Club. Today, the club's official name is the North Garland County Youth Center doing business as the Paul Bewie Boys and Girls Club.

To give today, call 984-6996 or see a club board member.

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