Posted: 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Boys and Girls Club to launch in West Chester area

By Amanda Seitz

Staff Writer

WEST CHESTER TWP. —

Children attending Lakota Local Schools will have a new after-school option once a Boys and Girls Club opens in the West Chester/Liberty Twp. area later this year.

The Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty will launch the program in the fall thanks to a $750,000 grant from the Ohio Attorney General’s office, according to Patti Alderson, board chair and CEO of the foundation.

“A lot of people think West Chester/Liberty, we don’t need a Boys and Girls Club,” Alderson said. “Of course we need a Boys and Girls Club. Our youth is our future; there’s no better way to reach the youth than a Boys and Girls Club.”

About 18 percent of Lakota’s 16,000 students apply for free a free or price reduced lunch, according to Alderson.

The Boys and Girls Club of Hamilton once ran an after-school program for about 35 Lakota elementary students. The program ended in 2008 because of state budget cuts, said Karen Miller, executive director of the Hamilton nonprofit.

“West Chester doesn’t have the blatant poverty that you find on the east side of Hamilton, but it has pockets of poverty,” Miller said.

The two Hamilton locations of the Boys and Girls Club serve about 85 children daily and charge 25-cents a day, or $8 for a summer, to give children a place when they’re out of school, Miller said.

The West Chester/Liberty Boys and Girls Club, slated to open in October, will charge a comparable price, Alderson said. The club will stay open until 7 or 8 p.m., she said.

The new Boys and Girls Club will be a boost for West Chester and Liberty townships but leave Middletown — a city of 48,000 and a poverty rate that hovers around 23 percent, according to 2010 census data — without such an establishment for children.

Documents obtained by the Hamilton JournalNews/Middletown Journal show that Middletown officials inquired last month about the possibility of bringing the Boys and Girls Club to the city after learning the nonprofit was planning to open in the Lakota school district.

Once officials learned, however, that the club would cost nearly $150,000 annually to maintain, they decided not to pursue the idea further.

Alderson said she recognizes the large expense of maintaining the Boys and Girls Club, which she said will likely reach roughly $500,000 annually once the club is fully operational. She said the Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty has plans to start a fund — with a goal of $10 million — to maintain the club.

Alderson said the Community Foundation is currently working to put together a board to oversee the new club. It will likely also need a program director to oversee daily operations, she said.

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