Special to the Berthoud Recorder
Have you ever seen the movie with Kevin Costner where he builds a baseball field, and people come from all over to play on it? A voice tells him, “If you build it they will come.” This has been my motto ever since I saw the film. It has become a force in my life, and I try to live my life with that in mind.
Recently I had the opportunity to become involved with a great group of people who operate the Boys and Girls Club of Larimer County. The BGC has been around for a long time and is an American icon with members in 1,300 clubs all over the country. The BCG is dedicated to our youth and provides a safe haven for kids to grow and learn. The BGC operates off endowments and grants and is all about community participation.
The BGC offers a place for kids to become responsible society members but also lets the kids be themselves. There is music, sports, arts and crafts, computer labs, and not to mention, a great homework program. They also provide meals for kids whose parents are forced to work multiple jobs in today’s strained economic times. A time-tested organization, the BCG is always looking for new ways to help us as parents develop our children into responsible community members.
Now here is where it becomes personal for me. I have often thought about how the Town of Berthoud has lost out on this great organization. I met with Executive Director Kathy Wright recently, and we talked about what it would take to bring Berthoud our own Boys and Girls Club. In my conversation I learned that she has been actively trying to get a club in Berthoud but have never been able to get past the initial conversations. She has visited our Town multiple times trying to work something out but nothing has ever panned out due mostly to the start up costs.
That was all I needed to hear, and my mind was made up. My wife Lexi and I are going to put the same energy into this project as I put into the BMX facility. We immediately started looking for a potential location, which seems to be the major obstacle. This did not take long, and we found the perfect location – off Fourth Street and Bunyan Avenue where there is a church for sale. We called the realtor and learned the building can be purchased for a fair market value. Step one completed. We then toured the facility with the operations manager for the BGC of Larimer County Sam Jack.
He was very excited about the location and took our proposal back to Wright. Her input was very positive, and we made a commitment to see if we could try one more time. In order to do this though, we would need the help of the community. And by help I mean funding. The building and the improvements will cost about $360,000. It would also require an operating endowment of approximately $160,000 for the first three years. After that we would be able to go to the BCG of Larimer County and see about permanent support through their endowment program. The BGC also has a Colorado child tax credit program, where donators can earn up to a 70 percent tax write-off for the donated proceeds. This program will give the Berthoud taxpayer a way to secure a tax credit and keep the money in our town.
With close to 1,000 six- to 12-year-olds within three miles of the Town the Berthoud, a BGC would be a great place for our kids. We would be able to build a needed skate park as well as an outdoor sport court for inline hockey and other uses. We would be able to feed a lot of kids, and in the summer, BGC would provide a supervised free place for kids to be when mom and dad are hard at work. We could run sponsored athletic leagues in conjunction with great names like the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, ABA not to mention a host of great arts programs. The building is also set up to install a working recording studio for the musicians complete with stage and equipment. It will also provide a great computer program geared towards Web design.
The best part is that if we could put this together, we would finally have done something to help our kids! I have heard for years how the Town is going to build a recreation center and even received a $500,000 gift towards its formation. The only problem is it would cost close to $3 million to complete the facility with an operating budget of about $100,000 per year. That leaves us millions short of the goal while our kids continue to suffer with a lack of things to do.
Personally, I am tired of the excuses and feel it’s time we came together as a community and invested our money in the future – our children. Berthoud is a wonderful place to live and we are lucky to have such a great community behind us. Mayor Patterson and the town council care about our youth and have embraced the potential for the club. Now it is up to the rest of the community to step up and get involved. In the near future, a group of very dedicated community members and myself are going to try and get this accomplished with a goal of opening the BGC by the end of the school year.
My wife Lexi and I will commit to running the facility and will spearhead the fund raising .We will not give up until the center is built and the local youth are given what they deserve – a place where they can grow to become another great generation of Berthoud residents. If you are interested in supporting our cause please feel free to contact me or Gary Wamsley at the Berthoud Recorder for more information regarding this much-needed project. And remember, “If we build it they will come!”