By Scott Swanson
Of The New Era 

Boys & Girls Club support has improved, but needs remain


May 30, 2017

RON MOORE, left, and Kris Latimer, center, speak at a breakfast for supporters of the Boys & Girls Club.

Support for the Boys & Girls Club in Sweet Home improved significantly after the club faced a financial crisis two years ago, but after an infusion of community support staved off threatened closure, the money flow has dropped.

That was the message Wednesday, May 24, at a “Breakfast of Champions” hosted by the Sweet Home club for donors and local business owners.

The event, which included about 75 people, included reports from board member Ron Wood and Kris Latimer, who is executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of the Greater Santiam, of which Sweet Home’s club is a part.

Wood also chair of the Sweet Home Advisory Council, which helps oversee the local club.

Wood thanked donors for their support in extracting the club from a $70,000 deficit that was, in part, the result of donation levels from Sweet Home that were one-sixth that of Lebanon.

Sweet Home responded, he said, giving $108,000 in 2015. But after the crisis passed, so did some of the donors.

“Once we breathe a sigh of relief, people step back,” he said.

Latimer said the bulk of individual giving in Sweet Home comes from the logging community, which accounts for about three-quarters of the donations the local club receives.

“Individual giving is huge for us,” she said.

The cost of operating the Sweet Home club is about $500,000 a year, she said; annual income is roughly $475,000.

“We’re getting really close in Sweet Home, with individual giving, to be in the black,” she said.

The Sweet Home club averages 151 children a day at its Community Center site and its new Teen Center at Sweet Home Junior High. In addition to athletics, the club also offers an after-school program with homework help, health and wellness training, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and a pre-K program.

Latimer said the poverty in Sweet Home makes the Boys and Girls Club an even more important resource for the community. She presented figures showing that childhood poverty rates are 27 percent in Linn County what they are in Benton County and about 5 percent higher than the statewide figure. The figures for children in insecure homes, those who don’t experience preschool, and reading levels are similar, she said.

Ninety-four percent of Sweet Home children are considered economically disadvantaged, Latimer said, compared to 65 percent for Lebanon and 38 percent for the state.

She said a University of Michigan study found that for every $1 invested in Boys and Girls Club activities, the return to the community is $12 in decreased crime and other damaging behaviors, less teenage pregnancy, better performance in school and working parents not having to leave jobs to take care of their children.


“Parents can be at work and be productive,” she said.

She said her club is also tight with its money, with only 8 cents of every dollar going to overhead – mostly staff costs.

New laws governing the minimum wage and establishing sick leave requirements are driving up those costs, Latimer said.

“Some of the decisions made in Salem hurt us.”

Tim Schotz, a longtime staff member in Sweet Home, told attendees how he grew up in a “troubled” household, with parents “who were into drugs.”

He said when he got into trouble as a child, the Boys and Girls Club “reached out” to him and that experience helped him get straightened out – and fed.

“We struggled each day for food,” he said. “Sometimes I’d go home and there would be no dinner. It was a big, big thing for me to eat.”

He told the audience that he was the first out of the seven people in his household to graduate from high school.

Wood said the club is dependent on the community to sustain and expand its programs and its facilities.

“One of the most important things we can do as a society is to support our youth,” he said.


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