If there’s anything budget crunches teach us, it’s how to form partnerships to get things done. One of those partnerships is making a difficult situation for the Boys and Girls Club of the SCV a little easier to tolerate.
The Val Verde satellite of the Club, which has been serving the community for 30 years, is the latest facility to close, a victim of funding shortages.
Over the years, the Club has only closed a few other locations; Skyblue in the late 1980s, Emblem a few years later. Newhall closed when the club’s main office opened in Newhall Park in 1992 and Sierra Vista was closed when a larger, new facility was built across the playing fields of the school.
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Through it all, the Club continued to serve upwards of 3,000 young people with activities, homework help, art and cultural programs and a safe place to be as they were growing up. The Val Verde clubhouse has seen an entire generation grow up within its walls.
Come March 15, that facility will be taken over by the Sheriff’s Youth Activity League, which has been working in tandem with the Club for the last 14 years. With the takeover comes funding to keep a Club constant, employee Jaime Briano, who will become a full-time employee of the YAL.
“He can remain that constant, that person in the community where people go to when there are kids in the park and all the things that go on over there,” said Jim Ventress, the Chief Professional Officer of the Boys and Girls Club of SCV. “The kids will still participate in sports leagues and come over here for basketball, and go to Sierra Vista for basketball. Anytime we get extra tickets, like when Walmart gives us Dodger tickets, we’ll send them over to Val Verde
“We’ve been there 30 years, but it’s one thing when you have a $1.6 million budget and four years later you have a $1.1 million budget.”
Ventress said that the kids shouldn’t lose out at all because of the strong partnership that was established over the years.
The Club will donate the equipment that’s already in the Val Verde clubhouse, as well as any supplies, to the Val Verde community.
“We are confident that the kids in Val Verde will be taken care of,” Ventress said. “That’s what’s important.”
According to Alan Lyons, President of the Club’s Governing Board, the decision was a difficult one.
“Over the last three years, the challenging economic environment has forced us to cut our overall budget by over 30 percent, while maintaining a full community program in Val Verde. We are very proud of our staff’s ability to find ways to do more with less, but for 2011, we can’t impose further cuts at the Newhall and Sierra Vista clubhouses – from which we serve more than 2,300 youth – and we simply do not have the extra funds right now to continue with full-time staff in Val Verde.”