FYC’s decade of commitment | NevadaAppeal.com

FYC’s decade of commitment

Steve Puterski
sputerski@lahontanvalleynews.com

Buzzing around like bees on a honeycomb, the laughs, shrieks and high-pitched cries of children pierce the air.

Youths from all walks of life converge each day to play, learn and participate in numerous activities at the Fallon Youth Club.

The club, meanwhile, has seen good times and bad, survived battles and endured financial hardship to keep its doors open for the past 10 years.

The FYC's official anniversary is March 28, but on April 17 the FYC opens its doors to the public to celebrate its 10th anniversary of serving Fallon's youths. The event runs from 4:30-7 p.m. at the club, 545 E. Richards St.

In its 10-year history, the club has served more than 1,700 children providing a second home that produces a safe, fun and educational center for youths.

"When this started in 2004, I did not see myself still here," Executive Director Shannon Goodrick said. "(Now) I can't imagine my life before it, I can't see my life after it. This is it. To know that regardless of what's going on in a child's life, they can come here and feel safe, I don't know how it doesn't continue."

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Looking toward the future

As the club continues it mission, current President Lem Mackedon and Goodrick said they have several goals to accomplish.

One is to deepen the homework program and create a more robust learning environment, Mackedon said. To establish a broader academic program, the club would also like to strengthen its ties with the school district and Oasis Charter school.

Another goal is expanding the reach of at-risk youths by removing barriers such as transportation, cost for families and physical access to the club.

Finally, the duo aims to expand the visibility and donor base of the club. The expansion also includes, hopefully they said, the addition of another full-time position dedicated to growing the academic programs.

"It's been very difficult for our group … to get members of the community to physically see what we do," Mackedon said. "We have an open-door policy. We have to get them to the club."

As the growth and success of academic and social programs continues, the club is also in its best financial shape since separating the Boys and Girls Club.

However, the club is still closing the gap with its finances and still has steps to climb to before it's financially sound.

Numerous campaigns such as "Love the Club," a monthly donation from individuals throughout Churchill County and Fallon, has played a large role in assisting the club reach its financial responsibilities.

The club is also charging forward with another campaign to secure donors who are willing to donate a large lump sum in the February or March to fill the hole.

In addition, the FYC's annual dinner auction is the organization's largest fundraiser raising tens of thousands of dollars to hold the club over through winter. Other events such as their dodgeball and golf tournaments also play a role in keeping funds rolling in.

The biggest influence, Mackedon said, are the academic and food programs.

The club's summertime lunches and dinners have become a big hit. In conjunction with Banner Churchill Community Hospital, the two entities provide the meals to any child at a number of locations in the area.

"Those programs are an outreach to the community and necessarily internalized by the club," Mackedon said. "Whether you're a member or not, you're eligible for a snack, lunch or dinner. The kids at the club aren't the only ones who need a free lunch."

In the beginning

Its origins began a decade ago as a chapter of the Boys and Girls Club, which officially opened in March 2005.

Goodrick, who was hired as the executive director in December 2004, said the process began in 1987 when a group of people decided a youth-type center was needed. Up until 2005, a number of different entities came through town, but the Boys and Girls Club model fit the best.

"They found the Boys and Girls Club and felt it was a good fit with the community," Goodrick said.

A board of directors was created and the seeds planted to give Fallon its only open after-school center for children. In the coming years, the club established itself as a place for youths from all economic and social backgrounds to gather and instill life-long lessons and growth.

Mackedon, who joined the FYC ranks in 2008, said the importance of the club cannot be understated.

Breaking away

After nearly four years associated with the Boys and Girls Club, the Fallon board directors broke away after differences with the business model surfaced.

As a result, the Fallon Youth Club was born. In the years since, the club has endured painstaking measures to grow membership and financial stability.

"Despite losing the fact that we would lose the umbrella of national recognition and the funding that came along with that, a decision was made to move away from then national organization and create a local organization," Mackedon said.

Perhaps the biggest challenge, though, has been the rebranding effort the past six years. Many around town and the county still refer to the organization as the Boys and Girls Club.

But in the past three years, the club and its board has aggressively campaigned to push its name, image and identity in the community.

Slowly, growth has come and financial stability is on the horizon. But the board opted to go the local route, in part, to keep 100 percent of donations and grants in the community.

"It kind of opened up a new avenue of funding by being able to promote the idea that this was going to be a purely local organization," Mackedon said. "We could guarantee that funds raised for our group were going to stay 100 percent in the borders of Churchill County."

Building on the foundation

The past several years have witnessed the club grow dramatically in numbers and with financial stability.

The club's roots were planted in modular buildings at E.C. Best Elementary School, but after the Churchill County School District administration moved to the Old High School, the FYC was given the green light by the city of Fallon to move to the district's old office at Oats Park with a big assist from the Rotary Club, who moved furniture, painted and provided handy work.

"We convey our thanks to the school district for housing us all those years," Mackedon said. "More and more people see us and understand what we do."

Moving to the park has been a boon for the FYC daily numbers as the average attendance ranges from 50-80 children per day.

"For some kids, we're a great place to socialize, come and hang out with their friends and do homework," Goodrick said. "For other kids, we're their home away from home. For some kids, we may be the only grown ups who are happy to see them outside the school day."

Numerous campaigns such as "Love the Club," a monthly donation from individuals throughout Churchill County and Fallon, has played a large role in assisting the club reach its financial responsibilities.

But the late winter and early spring months are still the most challenging times for the club.

With the club battling to stay alive, the recognition has begun to grow as the city of Fallon and Churchill County are two of the club's biggest "champions," Goodrick and Mackedon said. In addition, dozens of local businesses also aid the club's mission with monthly donations or who fundraise on the behalf of the FYC.

Not to mention the hundreds of individual donors who keep the club's monthly cash flow alive.

In short, community ownership is starting to take hold.

"There's a snowball effect once you start promoting the club and people seeing more and more of what the club does," Mackedon said. "It's easy for them to gravitate toward funding it."

Lahontan Valley News reporter Steve Puterski is a member of the Fallon Youth Club's Board of Directors.

Invest in FYC

The Fallon Youth Club has several programs and events aimed to raise money to foster social and academic success for its members.

Those programs include a monthly donation for the “Love the Club” campaign; a large yearly contribution; dodgeball and golf tournaments; and an annual dinner auction held in September.

For information about how to donate or participate in an event, call the FYC at 775-423-6926 or visit its website at http://www.fallonyouthclub.com.

Also “like” the club on Facebook.

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