Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha has been going through major changes for the past couple of years.
In June of 2011 we opened the doors of our new 80,000 square foot community center. This state-of-the-art building has been recognized throughout the Boys & Girls Club movement as one of the finest structures nationwide. We are not aware of a larger free-standing club. Yes, there are bigger buildings that house clubs, mostly in large metropolitan areas like New York and Chicago. Those are buildings owned by others where the Boys & Girls Club has a presence.
But our building is owned and operated by Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha. That is unique and something which Kenoshans can take great pride in.
Since we opened, our membership has skyrocketed. If you’ll recall, prior to opening the new building, we had about 5000 members. Now, with the new facility and the programs and partnerships we have been able to offer, our membership has nearly doubled to nearly 9000. That is a huge number of youth benefitting from our services.
Now, our Chief Professional Officer Wally Graffen has announced that he has accepted a new position as a Regional Services Director with Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Our board has long recognized that Wally is a valuable commodity and many of us knew it was only a matter of time until the national organization scooped him up and he moved on to bigger challenges to help other clubs.
The work that Wally Graffen has done in Kenosha with Boys & Girls Club leaves a legacy that will be difficult to replicate. He has big shoes the fill. The board appreciates that and we are putting in place a carefully detailed plan to do a nationwide search that will allow us to get the best person to step in and continue with the success that we have had under Wally’s leadership.
In the meantime, we have asked Ron Stevens to step in as our interim director. Ron has been active with the club, either in a board capacity or on staff, for nearly 20 years. Prior to that, he served for 10 years as Executive Director of the CYC. We are confident that Ron gives us the stability we will need as we go through the search and identify a new full-time exec.
Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha will miss Wally Graffen. He has been such an imposing presence at the club and on behalf of the club in the community that it is difficult to imagine Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha without him. But he will still be active in the movement and available to assist whoever we hire to step in and take the club to the next level.
For now, I would ask all of you to continue to support Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha with your time and with your treasure. This is a challenging time for all nonprofits, with the state of the economy and the increasing need for the services we offer. The Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha is no different. We are going through a transition right now where we are hoping to finish the Capital Funds campaign while, at the same time, increasing our base of support as much as necessary to continue all of the programs under our $2.4 million operating budget. These are significant challenges.
But Wally and the Boards of Directors over the years have laid the foundation for a successful club that requires only that each of us recognize the value of the programs we offer and get involved. Please, as you consider your charity donations this year, keep Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha in mind.
We wish Wally Graffen great success in his new position. We know he will continue to make all his friends in Kenosha proud.
Thank you for keeping Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha as one of your charities of choice in the months ahead.