SH, Lebanon B&G Clubs formally join forces

The Boys and Girls Club of Sweet Home has completed a merger with the Boys and Girls Club of Lebanon to form the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Greater Santiam.

Club representatives and board presidents Eric Kirby, Lebanon, and Ron Moore, Sweet Home signed an agreement merging the two clubs on Aug. 31 at Mallard Creek Golf Course.

The two clubs have been working on the agreement for quite a while, discussions beginning two years ago, said Executive Director Jason Yutzie. “It finally hit the pavement running January, February. We’ll be acting as one organization tomorrow morning.”

“I’m excited,” Moore said. “I think it’s going to be a new frontier for our community.”

Lebanon and Sweet Home need to work together, he said, and this is one of the ways they can.

Combined, the two clubs have a better opportunity to grow and expand what they offer, Moore said. The new club is already expanding into Lacomb and will look at places like Crawfordsville for expansion. Combining resources makes it possible.

“We’re making a difference in more kids’ lives, which is what we’re here for,” he said. “It’s a good day.”

The advantage is the growth potential, Yutzie said. “It allows us to serve a larger number of kids and also hire and retain quality staff.”

Staff members will have the possibility of promotion within the organization, he said.

It took some selling, but when the deal was hammered out, there no issues left, said Wayne Risekamp, a Lebanon board member and a member of the founding board for the Lebanon club. “Our job as board members and staff was to continue to broaden our horizons, raise money and fund the programs the kids need to be successful in their adult lives.”

“I’m glad we’re doing this,” said Wendi Melcher, who was a Sweet Home board member and is now a trustee with Greater Santiam club. She also was one of the signatories. “I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m just glad it’s over. The papers are signed. We’re good to go.”

“We are maintaining our local identities,” Yutzie said. The kids won’t see a change. “They’re always going to know it as their club.”

Staffing is staying the same, Yutzie said. He has been acting director for Sweet Home. He will continue on as the Greater Santiam’s permanent executive director.

Shari Smith will continue as the onsite director. Amber Galster continues as program director, and Sarah Gray is office manager.

Jared Cornell is director of operations for the new organization, and like Yutzie, he also will spend time in Sweet Home. Both plan to be in Sweet Home one day a week regularly with more time as needed.

Under the new arrangement, Moore will be president of the club. The two boards are combined, with a total of 34 board members, 15 from Sweet Home and 19 from Lebanon.

As the club grows and adds satellite locations, the board will probably grow providing representation from the new geographical area being served, said Yutzie. Each community also will have a local advisory board.

Expansions into new communities will use existing space, such as Lacomb School, he said.

In some cases, it will happen where the children attend school, Moore said. They’ll continue their day at school until their parents can pick them up.