ATLANTIC CITY — The Boys & Girls Club could reopen for limited summer programs if it raises $150,000 in two weeks, the Board of Directors decided at a closed meeting Friday.
“I have two weeks to get the money in the bank, so I’ve got a lot of work to do,” said David Ross, who was brought in to help turn the organization’s finances around.
The club suspended its programs Thursday after falling $150,000 into debt, a situation blamed mostly on lost grants and an apparent failure to properly fundraise.
“No nonprofit can be totally dependent upon grant funding without risking calamity,” Ross said Friday after leaving the Board of Directors meeting. “We were very highly grant funded. I’m not sure of the actual percentages — I haven’t been able to get to that yet — but it could be as high as 90 percent, so that’s crazy. That’s literally crazy. So we have to expand our funding base, which is what we spoke about.”
With the club’s financial problems going public, offers to help have come pouring in. Now, Ross has the board’s permission to accept those funds as he works to meet the deadline. A letter is expected to go out to the public Monday explaining exactly where things stand.
The two-week timeframe would give the club enough time to get in touch with parents in order to sign children up for the summer.
“I need to be able to assure (the board) that we can get through the summer and be in condition to sustain the operation from now on,” Ross said.
Offers of help came from an unnamed law firm, which donated $5,000; Stockton College; which proposed hosting a Champions of Youth teen program; and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. The annual Big Teplitzky Challenge at the Chelsea will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, pitting firefighters against police officers in a food-eating competition that will benefit various organizations, including the club.
Tony Baloney’s owner Mike Hauke is challenging business owners to tag on $1 to certain items or offer their customers a donation option in order to help raise the money. He estimated Thursday that it would take only a week or two to raise the funds if everyone got involved.
On Friday, the board also approved a plan put forth by Councilman Marty Small to hold an event at the Revel on June 13. While it would be too late for the two-week deadline, money to help sustain the club is important.
Revel is donating its Ovation Hall to the Boys & Girls Club for the event, which will run from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., and include an auction of celebrity memorabilia and a raffle.
“I reached out to my contacts in the sports and entertainment world,” Small said. “And we’re asking local businesses and individuals to donate items we can raffle off that night, with all proceeds going to the Boys & Girls Club.”
Tickets will be a minimum $50 donation, with sponsorships beginning at $1,000. A more formal announcement is expected next week.
“A lot of people had lot of things to say about the Boys & Girls Club closing,” Small said. “Now is their chance to step up and get the doors opened up for the summer and beyond.”
A local parent said Friday she was pleased with what is being done to reopen the Boys & Girls Club.
“I applaud the efforts of our elected officials, the CRDA, local business and the residents of Atlantic City for stepping up and working together to come up with a solution for our Atlantic City youth,” said Michelle Johnson-Wright, who expected to have her son and stepdaughter go to the summer program.
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