A worthy investment

Published 5:53 am Thursday, June 7, 2007

By Staff
Washington’s City Council, as it continues its work on cobbling a budget for the 2007-2008 fiscal year, proposes to allocate $25,000 to the Beaufort County Boys &Girls Club, which has its headquarters in the city.
City Manager James C. Smith’s proposed spending plan calls for appropriating $7,500 to the Boys &Girls Club for the next fiscal year. The Boys and Girls Club, during its presentation to the City Council last week, let it be known it is losing $20,000 in grant money in that fiscal year. The loss of that grant funding puts the Boys &Girls Club in a position of “struggling,” according to club spokesman Mitch St. Clair.
The Boys &Girls Club’s budget for this fiscal year is $330,000, with $64,000 of that amount spent at its Belhaven facility.
The city should find an additional $17,500 to go with the $7,500 already in the draft spending plan. There’s no doubt the Boys &Girls Club would do good with the $25,000 it could receive from the city.
The Boys &Girls Club’s after-school program helps children become more proficient in the academic pursuits. Those students — when schools are open — in the program are required to work on their homework on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays before they are allowed to take part in other program activities. On Fridays, students turn their attention to physical activities. That approach helps children to properly develop their minds and bodies.
There’s no doubt the program has kept and continues to keep many children off the streets and out of trouble.
That’s why investing in the Boys &Girls Club makes sense.
As Mayor Judy Meier Jennette said last week, it’s cheaper in the long run for the city to provide $25,000 to the Boys &Girls Club to help it keep children out of trouble than it would be to spend money on children who get into trouble at young ages and stay in trouble throughout their lives.
As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Joyce Moore, a club spokeswoman, told the City Council the Boys &Girls Club’s programs should be reaching even more children than they already touch.
Club representatives told the City Council that 70 percent of the children in its after-school program are city residents.
It was after that statement was made that council members indicated the city would allocate $25,000 to the Boys &Girls Club. A final decision on appropriating that amount has not yet been made.
Jennings said the city should fund the Boys &Girls Club’s request because it faces a “year of need.”
The club’s influence on children can be seen by looking at NBA player Damien Wilkins, who once participated in Boys &Girls Club programs. Wilkins returns to Washington and the Boys &Girls Club on a regular basis to give back to an organization that he says helped him achieve his personal and professional accomplishments.
If a $25,000 allocation for even just one year helps turn around the life of a troubled child, it’s worth the expenditure.
The community must urge the City Council to make such an investment.