PITTSBORO — Pittsboro’s budding Boys & Girls Club has reached its minimum required funding threshold to begin operations and will likely open its doors to area youth soon after the 2021-22 school year begins, according to group representatives.
The new club, which will be Chatham’s second in addition to a long-established Siler City location, has been in development since early 2020. Club leaders hoped to open the Pittsboro location at several times since, but the COVID-19 pandemic and funding shortfalls prevented it.
“Originally, I figured, ‘Oh, we’ll just get our money and we’d open in December of last year,’” said Pittsboro Commissioner Kyle Shipp, who has been the driving force behind the club’s formation. “And, you know, of course we didn’t.”
To open a new club, even with support from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Carolina — a three-county organization based in Sanford that will oversee Pittsboro’s location — Shipp and other organizers needed to raise at least $220,000.
“And as I learned more and more about doing this thing — and I’ve never done this before — of opening a club,” Shipp said, “that seemed pretty daunting.”
Even after launching a dedicated effort to raise funds, donations were slow in coming. In June, the club had only about $50,000. A month later, however, Shipp and his club partners hosted a “Pancakes Pave the Way” fundraising event at the Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center, and momentum began to shift.
“A lot of the early stuff was from individual donors, smaller donations,” Shipp said. “And then really what really took us over the top was that event and large donations from either families or companies.”
In the last few weeks, the club has received several donations of $5,000 and $10,000, plus $25,000 and $50,000 donations.
“It really did surprise me by how quickly it came together,” Shipp said. “It felt like we were pushing the rolling coaster up the hill for a while, but now we’ve got it over the top.”
With the requisite funds in tow, Shipp estimates the club can open by October pending final approval from the Boys & Girls Club of Central Carolina. Until now, the Pittsboro club has operated unofficially under a memorandum of understanding with BGCCC, which required collection of the minimum funding goal.
“And so Thursday we have the board meeting where we hope to get the final sign-off on creating the new club,” Shipp said. “So that’ll officially create the club.”
Next will come the hiring process for a full-time club director and several part-time staffers.
“The director will be the big one,” Shipp said, “but what we’ve kind of seen in the other clubs is the part-time positions are our most critical to the continued operation of the club, and particularly now that clubs are back to not having volunteers because of COVID risk. And so the staff is even more important than when we’re able to have volunteers as well.”
Even after opening, though, Shipp hopes the community will continue its financial support to ensure the club can maintain operations in years to come. Ideally, the club would hold $220,000 in the bank as a “reserve fund” and use new donations to pay for the $175,000 a year in expected operational expenses.
“The goal would be to cover the operational costs as they come along, and then have the operational reserve to be financially strong as well,” Shipp said. “So we’re glad to talk to anybody interested in helping with financial support, but also we’ve had a lot of people volunteer to help teach or provide materials or provide different things like that. There’s all kinds of ways that the community can help.”
Boys & Girls Clubs of America is a national organization founded in 1860 “to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.” The Pittsboro location will open in a dedicated building at George Moses Horton Middle School and host about 80 children, according to Shipp. So far, about 45 families have expressed interest in joining the club.
To express your interest in having a child or children join the Pittsboro Boys & Girls Club, fill out the survey at http://qrco.de/PBGCsurvey.
To make a donation to the Pittsboro Boys & Girls Club, visit https://qrco.de/PittsboroBGC or send your contribution to PO Box 551, Pittsboro, NC 27312.
Reporter D. Lars Dolder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @dldolder.
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