“Here they show her so much love,” said parent Laury Brown of George West as she was picking up her daughter Lacie Monday afternoon. “She has a place to go after school, but she gets so bored.”
The clubs closed in August after funding was lost and financial problems developed. Since then, the Live Oak County clubs have been merged with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Beeville and new funding has been found. Staff has been rehired, and the clubs have been cleaned up.
“We basically just gutted them,” said Dan Thomas, executive director of the Beeville clubs who is now overseeing the Live Oak County clubs. “We cleaned them up, repainted them, did some plumbing and electrical work.”
The Boys & Girls Clubs of America has given the local clubs $40,000 in funding to merge, renovate and reopen, Thomas said.
Ida Lopez is now operations director of the Live Oak clubs.
“The parents are so excited. They are thanking us for reopening,” Lopez said. “They’re saying, ‘Wow, our kids are coming home with their homework done and calmer.’”
The closing of the clubs left many parents in the lurch, as they depended on the clubs for a safe place for their children to go after school. Some 125 families are members of the clubs.
“The kids are great,” Lopez said. “The first day they walked in and said, ‘Oh, it’s awesome in here.’”
Lopez said the club now has laptop computers the kids can use. Software includes educational games as well as fun games.
Thomas and Chuck Campbell, president of the Live Oak County Boys & Girls Club board of directors, said the organization is working on getting out of debt.
When the clubs closed, the board found finances in disarray. Reports had not been filed, which cost the clubs United Way funding, and checks had not been deposited.
“We are making some headway,” Thomas said. “We are paying our debt down and should be debt free by the end of November.”
Campbell praised the board members for the hard work in getting the clubs reopened.
“I’ve been really pleased with the board,” Campbell said. Violet Person and Linda Richter took a huge leadership role.”
Richter, of First National Bank in Three Rivers, is a member of the advisory board.
Campbell said the clubs’ first fundraiser will be the giveaway of a new Jeep.
He said Lisa Jackson, of George West’s Bottom Line Services, is working on the event.
Tickets, which will cost $20 each, will be sold beginning next month at Storyfest in George West. The winner will be drawn in February. The clubs hope to raise between $20,000 and $25,000.
Each club has an education director: Lina Lopez in George West and Elizabeth Gass in Three Rivers. Adriana Carroll is the recreation counselor in George West, while Ida Lopez is still looking to fill that part-time position for Three Rivers.
Volunteers, such as Ann Snuggs of George West, round out the staffing.
“These people do such a wonderful job,” parent Brown said. “They don’t get enough credit.”
The Three Rivers club will be reopen from 3 until 6 p.m. Monday. Regular hours for both clubs are 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 3 to 6 p.m. Friday.