The Boys and Girls Club of Desert Hot Springs is getting help from the community and will keep its doors open despite the financial struggles of the city. About 1,200 children are enrolled in the club’s after-school and summer programs. In the midst of a fiscal emergency, the city decided subsidizing the program with $25,000 a year was just too much. The council voted in December to end the contract with the club. The agreement was scheduled to end this month. That is, until partners in the same building stepped in. "The Desert Healthcare District board put out a challenge grant of $310,000 over a two-year period,” said Kathy Greco, the CEO of the Desert Healthcare District.
With the grant and funding from other partners like Borrego Healthcare next door, the club will stay open at a crucial time, summer vacation. "Absolutely wonderful, and we're going to have programs to help them retain what they learned in school,” said Bobby Dempsey, a volunteer at the club.
But, it’s not just funding, it’s a focus on well-being. One of the ways the club wants to create revenue is by requiring check-ups for its members. The insurance money could go towards Borrego and ultimately back to the building lease, and staying healthy gets a lot easier for families. "Every child gets an annual dental exam, and an annual medical exam,” said Greco. “They don't have to worry about transportation or worry about the scheduling."
While the partners help the Boys and Girls Club secure its finances, the community says it’s the club that’s changing the lives of these young people. "It's absolutely essential, best thing in this town,” said Dempsey.
The DHD says this solution could become the model for Boys and Girls clubs throughout the valley. They’re also still looking for other partners to help fund the club.