PITTSBURG -- The city's "positive place for kids" may soon be no more.
The East County Boys & Girls Club, which has served at-risk Pittsburg youth for 66 years, has been hampered by financial woes and now faces not having enough money to cover personnel costs.
The Boys & Girls Club board of directors sent out a letter this week to all parents of the 400 children in the club's before- and after-school programs and past benefactors, saying the program's future is in jeopardy.
"We are in a dire situation, that's why we're asking for the community's help," said Heliodoro Moreno, the nonprofit's board president.
The club could close sometime this month unless it receives short-term and long-term financial help, Moreno said. Although it fluctuates slightly, the club is short about $8,000 per month, he said.
In addition to programs at its Stoneman Avenue site, the Boys & Girls Club runs before-school programs at all three Pittsburg junior high schools and after- school programs at Hillview and Rancho Medanos junior highs. Staffing costs at the school sites is reimbursed by the Pittsburg school district, Moreno said.
Boys & Girls Club's cost responsibilities include employee insurance and workers' compensation costs, part of the salaries of Executive Director Tamika Bennett and other full-time employees, and other overhead expenses.
The East County Boys & Girls Club has operated in Pittsburg since 1947, when it was located on West Eighth Street off Montezuma Street. A fire destroyed the building in 1985, but through community donations, a larger facility was built on Stoneman, opening in June 1992.
"This is a sad day. It is unfortunate it has come to this," said County Supervisor Federal Glover, of Pittsburg, adding he "practically grew up" in the program.
The Boys & Girls Club has helped thousands of young people in East Contra Costa County stay out of trouble and steered them toward productive lives, he said.
"It provided a safe haven for many of us after school and during the weekends," Glover said.
The East County program, like many around the county, has had financial difficulties. Moreno points to the club losing many longtime donors and not having enough seed money to put on fundraising events.
"Unfortunately, we don't have the same community support we once had," he said. "A nonprofit can only run with the support of its community."
Since taking over last May, Bennett has been able to find "some band-aids," such as grant funding, but nothing sustainable, Moreno said.
The nonprofit amended a lease agreement with the Pittsburg school district in 2009 and transferred ownership of the Stoneman building to the district. Pittsburg Adult Education Center uses the building during school hours, evenings and weekends, while the Boys & Girls Club runs after-school tutoring and recreation programs.
Last January, Boys & Girls Club board members had to increase after-school program fees from $90 a year to $90 a month for five months because of past financial mismanagement and limited community donations.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.