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FUNDRAISERS SCHEDULED - A Boys & Girls Club fundraiser is scheduled for Sunday. April 29, from noon to 5 p.m. at Delavan Lanes, 509 S. 7th St., Delavan. The event includes a bake sale, chili cook off, silent auction, raffle and face painting for the kids. Admission is $10 per ticket, which includes shoe rentals and two games. For more information, contact the Boys and Girls Club of Walworth County at (262) 726-1242, or by email at bgcwalco@yahoo.com. Tickets will also be available at the door. According to Deputy District Attorney Josh Grube, another fundraiser is also being planned as an Aug. 3 golf outing at Lake Lawn Golf Course.
April 04, 2012 | 08:00 AM
DELAVAN — In 10 years, there should be a Boys & Girls Club in every city in Walworth County, said Josh Grube.

But right now, Grube, deputy Walworth County district attorney, and a steering committee of five interested residents are concentrating on starting a club in Delavan,.

"We've identified Delavan as one of the areas with a significant need," Grube said in an interview last week.

Juvenile crime spikes between 3 and 7 p.m. there, Grube said.

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"We see tons of juvenile referrals that come through out office of kids that are just wandering around," he said. "We're hoping to provide a safe place and a productive place for kids to learn."

What the club needs most is a place to meet.

For now, the steering committee is operating under the parent organization, the Janesville Boys and Girls Club.

Boys and Girls Clubs are places where youngsters 7 to 18 can find a quiet place to do homework, get some tutoring, or just have some fun playing basketball, air hockey or ping pong.

The effort now is to just find a home for the club, Grube said.

He said that, for now, the steering committee would be happy to secure a small location, with an option to move into a bigger space.

Grube said he's done some research on the Boys & Girls Club program, and discovered that it can accomplish positive things in the lives of kids.

He said about 90 percent of the youngsters who participate in Boys & Girls Club activities graduate from high school.

"I was amazed at the impact this club can have," Grube said. "I was surprised we didn't have Boys & Girls Clubs in Walworth County. It's a solid program.

"I think as soon as we're open, the kids will flood in," he said.

One of the hurdles is the cost of either buying or leasing a suitable location.

The steering committee is looking at both fundraisers and state grants to help bring in the money needed to get the program off the ground.

In a March 27 post on the Walworth County Boys & Girls Club website, bgcwalco.org,

Ashley Contreras community outreach coordinator for Delavan-Darien schools, began spearheading the effort for a Boys & Girls Club in 2009.

The steering committee has applied for a state Department of Public Instruction 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant.

The grant would be for $100,000 a year for five years.

In a telephone interview on Monday, Contreras said the grant application has been submitted, and the steering committee will know whether it has won the grant by June.

The grant is intended to fund a community learning center that provides students with academic enrichment, as well as activities designed to complement regular academic programs.

Community learning centers must also offer students' families literacy and educational development classes.

Centers also provide support for student learning and development, including tutoring and mentoring, homework help, academic enrichment, community service opportunities, as well as music, arts, sports, and cultural activities. And centers help working parents by providing a safe environment for students when school is not in session.

The grant is typically awarded to school districts. But community-based organizations, such as the Boys & Girls Club, may also apply.

The community organization must target a certain school within the community from which the majority of their students will come from.

The Boys & Girls Club has chosen to target Phoenix Middle School. If awarded the grant, students from other schools will also be able to attend the Boys & Girls Club, but at least 51 percent of members must be Phoenix students.

The grant is to fund centers that will primarily serve students coming from a school in which at least 40 percent of students are from low-income families (usually determined by the number of students eligible for free or reduced lunch).

At Phoenix, 72 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Cost of membership has not yet been determined, but the goal is make it affordable. Annual membership fees are typically between $10 to $20, and scholarships may be available to children who wish to be members, but are not able to pay membership fees.

"I'm hoping that what makes our application stand out is the need," Contreras said. "The lack of programming is so significant. There is no structured programming for at-risk kids in the schools."

Contreras said there were some initial discussions with the city of Delavan about several locations in the city that the club might use.

"They did express an interest in the Boys & Girls Club coming into several locations," Contreras said. She said the steering committee reviewed two of the proposed buildings and had appraisals done on each.

"When you get a change in occupancy, you have a whole new set of codes, and the buildings are in rough shape," Contreras said.

Renovations to either facility came to about $300,000, she said.

To be able to separate from the Janesville organization an become an autonomous Boys & Girls Club, the Walworth County group will have to raise one and a half times of its annual operating expenses, which is over $200,000, Contreras said.

She said the committee had to rethink what it was capable of raising to start up the club.

"We're asking people to invest in a dream," Contreras said. .

She said the committee is now considering renting a storefront, just to get the club's doors open.

Then, the club can continue on a capital campaign to buy or build, she said.

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