Boys and Girls Club Update

Marcus O'Malley -- February 13th, 2008

The DNR wrote about the B&G Club update at City Council last night. Derrick Whetzel, VP of Operations, spoke on behalf of the club. He identified poor management and communication, lack of experience, a difficult challenge raising $1.5 million additional to operation costs fund raising, poor press and a number of other reasons for their inability to raise the money. Many of these reasons listed led to the B&G Club to decide to hire on assistance in the form of the DNS consulting group. He identified inexperience as a major cause for poor decision making regarding the consulting companies failure. Mr. Whetzel did assure the Council that the funds spend on the consulting company were raised by the board members themselves. All finances donated to the B&G Club go to operations.

A concerned citizen mentioned how great the B&G Club had impacted his son and his family. He mentioned his feeling that though mistakes had been made, he couldn’t imagine the city where he and his family would be without the B&G Club.

Walter Curt also spoke at length about his experience with being involved with the club and fund raising efforts. He named issues of poor project management, lack of knowledge in major fund raising, poor planning and lack of follow through as issues he saw during the time he helped. Mr. Curt stated in most fund raising cases groups such as DNS the fund raising company, certainly in the case of a non profit, should take a percentage of what they bring in. Mr. Curt was not satisfied with DNS’s efforts in the process and identified most of their work was phone conferences with the board. He recognized and identified this weakness early in the process, but no change was made. He identified new ideas of fund raising as options, but these ideas were not followed through upon. He also stated that no one has approached him regarding the financing he has stopped to try and continue it or even to apologize. Mr. Curt wants to continue to help the B&G Club, but has a lot of concerns about management and the seeming lackluster treatment he has received since leaving involvement with the group. He has seen no changes that would give him a feeling of comfort to move forward. He is willing and interested in continuing to fund the B&G Club if changes are made to his satisfaction.

Everyone that spoke including the City Council and Mr. Curt praised the B&G Club for the work they have done in Harrisonburg and for the huge benefits to the city the programs they offer deliver. All mentioned the large number of children that have been impacted and lives changes because of the B&G Club.

18 Responses to “Boys and Girls Club Update”

  1. finnegan says:

    Thanks for reporting on this meeting.

    “He is willing and interested in continuing to fund the B&G Club if changes are made to his satisfaction.”

    I assume that means firing Heather Denman. In a DNR article, Ms. Curt made it pretty clear that they would not continue supporting the BGC if she remained the director.

    What other specific changes are needed according to Curt, besides firing Denman and dropping DNS?

  2. marcus says:

    He wasn’t specific on the details. I think first and foremost he wants an apology and someone to approach him regarding it so he can give those terms.

    It would seem that Heather Denman leaving is important to him from the previous article, however he did not identify Ms. Denman at any point in this meeting. He said in the meeting that he didn’t know if it was “at the top or at the bottom” of management but that something needed to change and someone needed to apologize and take responsibility.

  3. Reagandem says:

    Marcus, did anyone on council raise the issue of whether another organization could take the place of the B&GC? It seems at this point that the city believes their children deserve $100,000 in services but will only get $50,000 so that the city is “paid back.”

  4. bdj says:

    I find it interesting that the B&G Club portrayed themselves as victims — of poor management, lack of experience, inadequate press — but took little or no responsibility or corrective action. I’m tired of this whole victim mentality — not just from them, but from our culture in general.

    To gain some credibility, the club needs to admit it messed up and find a way to demonstrate it is taking corrective action. And the city should have done more than cut the funding by half. Why not the whole thing? Who is to say they’ll use that money wisely?

  5. MAW says:

    Wasn’t it just a week or so ago that there was an article in the DNR about the club having a plan to repay the money? They weren’t going to discuss it until the council meeting? Did I dream that?

  6. MAW says:

    HARRISONBURG – The debt of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County and land issues are scheduled to come before the Harrisonburg City Council tonight.

    Club representatives are expected to bring their plan to repay $750,000.

    Representatives of the club have not commented on their plans.

    This was in the DNR on Feb. 12. I had to make sure I wasn’t losing my mind.

  7. marcus says:

    No that issue wasn’t raised. The city received a $1 million dollar tax credit for the money they put in the building. They estimated $750,000 value for B&G Club, $250,000 for the ARC (other non-profit in the SIMMS).

    So they took that value and subtracted it from the B&G Club debt. The remaining $750,000 will be taken out each year in $50,000 installments.

    To my knowledge there is no organization that provides the services that B&G Club currently does. Also it was said at the meeting that there is an audit performed each year of operations expenses which is where the $50,000 from City Council and any donations go. The only money in question that was misused for the consulting company came from the board of directors own pockets.

  8. Dave Briggman says:

    Marcus, if the City got a $1 million tax credit, how much money did the City say that they had to spend to get the $1 million credit?

  9. Reagandem says:

    Did the $260,000 for the consulting come from the members of the Board or was it raised by the members of the Board? My math may be off, but if they paid that money out of their pockets it comes to $11,000+ each. Quite generous if it happened, but it seems unlikely.

  10. Marcus says:

    It seems unlikely to me also, but Mr. Whetzel assured those in attendance that money donated to the B&G Club went to operations and did not go to DNS. I imagine it is possible that someone like Mr. Curt covered the damage?

  11. Marcus says:

    Dave – I believe they spend $1.5 million on the building and received a $1 million dollar tax credit.

  12. JGFitzgerald says:

    Someone could go back and check the minutes of the meetings when the Council originally approved the arrangement. I’m thinking it was late 2003 or 2004. Mike Wong at HRHA could tell you exactly.

  13. Dave Briggman says:

    Maybe, Gene, they borrowed the $260,000 from HRDA?

  14. Reagandem says:

    Yeah, that’s what I am afraid of!

  15. Helen says:

    Any way you slice it, it’s a disaster. The judgment and ethics of the Club’s leadership are in question. And they continue to act as if nothing happened. Where is the accountability? Where is change in leadership? Why is nothing more being done. I continue to be OUTRAGED at this situation and will not invest any time or money into the organization until changes are made.

  16. Dave Briggman says:

    I’m curious as to why Larry Roger’s name has been mentioned in few, if any stories about this…Myron posted something about the lack of fundraising success the Harrisonburg BGC seemed to be enjoying some months before the mainstream media “broke” this story…unfortunately has erased the blog several times so I don’t remember the exact details of his writings.

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