There’s good news for the children of Mendota: Their Boys and Girls Club no longer is at risk of closing.
After Mendota Mayor Robert Silva addressed the Westlands Water District Board of Directors about the financial troubles the club faced, they stepped up with a $36,000 donation.
“We are so thankful to Westlands Water District Board of Directors for this generous gift to keep the doors of the Mendota Club open to children who rely on the services, positive environment, and diversified educational programs provided by the club every day,” said Kathryn Weakland, vice president of development for Boys and Girls Clubs of Fresno County.
“We are still working to secure permanent funding, but this will help us seek the right opportunities in the meantime.”
Operating Costs Are Rapidly Rising
Weakland explained that rising operating costs, minimum wage increases, and a lack of sustainable funding sources created big hurdles for the club.
There’s little doubt about the great need for the services the club provides. These include mentoring, arts and crafts, recreation, and nutritious meals.
Club Has More Than 300 Members
The club serves more than 300 children, 95 percent of whom live in public housing near the club, Weakland said. Club members come from families with an average income of $16,000 a year. And, about 85% of the members have a parent or parents who work for farmers in Westlands.
Tom Birmingham, general manager of Westlands, said the donation was a way of mitigating socioeconomic impacts resulting from the retirement of about 40,000 acres of farmland near Mendota.
The next task, Weakland said, is developing more relationships with potential donors and creating an annual club fundraiser.