Fallon Youth Club in tight spot
May 16, 2013
It provides numerous outlets for Fallon's youth.
A tour provided by Max Hartzer, 7, of E.C. Best Elementary School and Macie Wadsworth, 12, of Churchill County Middle School displayed those outlets. Wadsworth, who has been going to the Fallon Youth Club for the past five years, said she enjoys being with her friends at the club.
In the teen building — one of five at the club nestled behind E.C. Best — Wadsworth said she and her friends use the time to discuss various issues affecting their lives, do homework, play games and more.
Hartzer, meanwhile, ecstatically provided a detailed description of each building and its functions. In addition to the teen building, the FYC has an arts and crafts center and structures dedicated to education, games and administration work.
Those buildings and the club's future, though, are in dire straits. According to Lem Mackdeon, president of the FYC board of directors, the youth organization must raise a minimum of $10,000 in the next several months for the club to survive until its yearly fundraising blowout in September.
"We've had a lot of difficulties with our funding this year," he said. "We have seen a gradual or dramatic decrease in our federal funding. In the past, we have been able to make it up through the community, but this year we have not."
The FYC totals 303 annual members and serves about 85 children per day. Since opening in 2005, the group has served more than 102,000 after-school snacks and 42,494 summer lunches.
The lunch program is partially funded by a program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is one of the most popular at the club.
As the economic climate soured, the number of lunches and snacks has increased. Last year, the club served more than 9,000 summer lunches to children throughout the community during a nine-week span.
"We see an increase every year in that program," Mackedon said.
Budgets cuts from state and federal grant programs, though, have sliced the FYC's funding by at least 30 percent during the past several years.
Mackedon said fundraising efforts have reached a critical point. One fundraising plan is to attempt to secure 1,000 indviduals or businesses to donate at least $10 per month dubbed "Love the Club."
"We try to make it easy for people to do … and most people don't miss it (the donated money)," Mackedon said. "The grant funding is only a portion to keep the doors of the club open. The events we've done so far this year are down approximately 50 percent. We are at risk of losing this organization. It's a place where children can come and seek encouragement and structure."
Shannon Goodrick, FYC's executive director, has been with the club since it open its doors in March 2005. She said it costs about $15,000-$20,000 per month to operate the club.
"I know, at this point, we need to inform the community of what we do," Goodrick said.
Three full-time and five part-time employees plus 10-12 volunteers make up the workforce. Goodrick said the club attempts to keep a 1:15 supervisor to child ratio as a way to reduce overwhelming a supervisor.
She said the organization provides after-school activities including a study hall. The club is open during the school year from about 3 p.m. (or after school ends) until about 6:30 p.m.-7 p.m.
Other programs include computer training, drug prevention and domestic violence awareness.
"I fear there is a misundertstanding in the community of what we do," Goodrick said. "They see the kids play, but what they miss is the formal instruction going on. We use the games as tools to get the kids here. We are here for the kids who need us most."
Despite the financial shortcomings, Mackedon is confident the club will rebound and even grow. His plan includes earning about $10,000 per month in donations — mostly through the "Love the Club" — which would allow the FYC to expand its homework assistance program among others.
"I think this is one of the more valuable programs in the community," Mackedon said. "To provide that assistance, it requires a decent amount of funding."