Welcome back to the club

The Boys and Girls Club of Whitehorse has reopened this week thanks to a last-minute gift from the Yukon government.

The Boys and Girls Club of Whitehorse has reopened this week thanks to a last-minute gift from the Yukon government.

“We opened up last night and had about 15 youths stop by,” said club executive director Dave Blottner, who got the news on Friday evening.

“They were pretty happy to see us open again.”

The club closed down last week because of a $50,000 budget shortfall – caused by a decrease in grant funding this year.

After cutting hours, asking staff to work voluntarily without pay and getting food donations from the community, the youth centre was forced to close its doors.

A week later it reopened, thanks to an infusion of cash from the Yukon government and youth directorate.

The decision to help out the youth centre was made last Wednesday as “a one-time thing,” said youth directorate manager Gord Kurzynski.

“This is basically enough money to keep them alive until their year end in March.”

The territory ended up giving the club the $50,000 it needed to keep its doors open.

There has been a request for future yearly funding increases, but that won’t be decided until the New Year, Kurzynski added.

The Boys and Girls Club of Whitehorse, previously known as the Whitehorse Youth Centre, has been around for about 10 years.

Its clubhouse provides a safe space for youth aged 12 to 18, some of whom are escaping violence or substance abuse at home.

The Boys and Girls Club has also partnered with the city to create the Chillax’n Lounge at the Canada Games Centre.

The club provides a youth worker voice on the Youth Justice Panel and provides hot food for the outreach van.

The group needs at least $231,000 a year to keep the youth centre operating at the minimum standards.

This money goes toward paying wages, the mortgage, food, heat, power and telephone and internet connections.

The Yukon Government and city of Whitehorse provide annual contributions that cover $140,000 worth of those expenses, leaving a $91,000 difference that the club has to cover with grants and fundraising.

This year, many of the grants fell through.

The reopened club will maintain its shortened schedule of Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

In January the club will likely go back to four days a week until the end of the fiscal year.

“Luckily I was able to get all of my employees back before they got snagged away by other places,” said Blottner.

“They’re quite happy to be employed again right before Christmas.”

Contact Chris Oke at

chriso@yukon-news.com

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