Boys and Girls Club seeks local support

VERGENNES — The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Vergennes has launched its annual local fundraising drive, an effort that club Executive Director Mike Reiderer said is important for the youth organization in more ways than one.
The club’s goal this year is $17,500, as it has been in recent years. Reiderer said the effort netted $16,000 in 2011, the fundraising drive’s most successful result.
“It’s the same goal we’ve had for three years. We haven’t reached it yet, but we get closer every year,” Reiderer said.  “We’re hoping to get up there this year.”
The youth club’s annual budget approaches $300,000, and the fundraising effort is important, even if it is not as major a component as the $100,000 the club has received in substance abuse prevention grants in recent year, the $100,000 it obtains in most years as its share of federal funding that goes to Boys & Girls Clubs around the nation, the up to $25,000 that has been the club’s share from the United Way of Addison County, and the roughly $20,000 in state funding.
But Reiderer said a successful annual effort shows foundations and other donors that the city-based club enjoys support in its Vergennes and surrounding towns — that support enhances its chances of receiving other financial gifts, which add up to $20,000 or more in a typical year. 
“It is critical,” he said. “It’s really important in showing grantors that we have local support … They all like to see we have that local component, that the community cares that we’re here.”
In all, the club has 300 members, although not all are regular attendees at one of the club’s two School Street sites. Reiderer said another 300 youths a year show up to at at least one club-sponsored event, including its prevention efforts in schools, or dances, game nights or dinners held in the community or at one of the club’s sites.
According to the club’s fundraising email, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Vergennes provides structure for many at-risk or in-need youths: “More than 60 percent of our members come from families with limited financial means; more and more often our staff see youth who face substance abuse and physical or mental illness in their families or personally; and more members than ever struggle with the decision to complete high school.”
As well as supporting drug and alcohol prevention, club programs are intended to “teach cooking and nutrition skills and encourage physical activity (that) helps kids make healthy choices that can last a lifetime. Opportunities for service help engage young people in their community and the informal guidance of staff members promotes the need for education and good decision-making every day kids are at the club.”
The club charges minimal annual membership fees, and Reiderer said no child will be turned away for an inability to pay.
The campaign opened with face-to-face appeals by the club’s board members, letters, emails and contacts made through social media.
Those interested in learning more may call Reiderer at 877-6344. The club’s address is P.O. Box 356, Vergennes, VT 05491. 

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