|October 17, 2013
Ronan Boys & Girls Club continues amid uncertainty
Community and rap artist help kids club’s doors open
By Alyssa Nenemay
Local Rap artist “Illest Illuminati” (center) helped organize a benefit concert in order to fundraise for the local Boys and Girls Club program as well as the Bread Basket. The musician met with fans and signed autographs after the show. (Photo By Alyssa Nenemay)
RONAN — In a time of budget cuts on all levels, the local Boys and Girls Club is no exception to the struggles of making ends meet. Providing services to over 500 registered members, the annual cost of operations for both the Ronan and Polson centers has increased from $240,000 to over $300,000 in recent years.
Local Boys and Girls Club executive director John Schnase said the increase has taken its toll. “In August, the Boys and Girls Club board voted to shut the center down for six weeks to curb this year’s costs. I don’t know what our kids would do if we had to close down,” he said.
Missoula rap artist “OverTime” performed several songs for the benefit concert. The musician also donated a portion of his CD sales to the Boys and Girls Club the night of the concert. (Photo By Alyssa Nenemay)
Founded in 1860, the Boys and Girls Club is a national organization that aims to provide children with a safe center for learning and recreation when school isn’t in session. There are more than 4,000 locations throughout the US, each developed on a grass roots level. On a national scale, Native Americans make up 3 percent of the clubs’ clients.
On the Flathead Reservation, the Boys and Girls Club serves as one of the only center based recreational efforts for local youth. Serving children ages 6-18, the Ronan center offers participants basketball courts, a computer lab, pool tables, arts and crafts, video game and movie rooms, tutoring, an array of educational programs and a seasonal opportunity to swim in the pools.
“There is so much need and demand for what we do here. This community isn’t wealthy and I don’t know how the average family makes it. We help out where we can by giving kids a fun and safe place to belong. A sense of belonging is so important,” said Schnase.
Concert guest Randyn Four Horns purchased a CD from the artist “OverTime” and was able to get some autographs. (Photo By Alyssa Nenemay)
Although 33 percent of the local program’s funding is provided by federal grants, private donors including local businesses, people, and organizations contribute to most of the Boys and Girls Club’s budget.
Schnase announced that through funding provided by the Tribes and Lake County, the center would not be required to close down in order to operate for the remainder of the year. “We are so thankful for the funding to stay in operation but this really lets us know we need to start planning ahead for next year,” he said.
To show support for the local Boys and Girls Club program, St. Ignatius rap artist “Illest Illuminati” collaborated with other musicians last month to organize a fundraising benefit concert at the Ronan center. Attended by over 30 people, most being children who participate in the club, the concert asked audience members to bring food donations in addition to entry prices for the Bread Basket.
Held at the Ronan Center, the “Illuminate R Youth” benefit concert attracted over 30 attendees, most being children who participate in the program. (Photo By Alyssa Nenemay)
“I am from the Flathead Reservation so The Boys and Girls Club was always a fun spot to be at growing up. I just wanted to throw the concert to help keep the Boys and Girls Club alive for a younger generation because there is a lot of mischief you can get into on the Rez from drugs and alcohol to gangs. Anything I can do to help better my Rez or help my people out, I am there,” said Illest Illuminati.
In the future, the centers will be looking to implement more fundraising efforts. Schnase said the Boys and Girls Club is open to ideas from the community in these ventures. For more information visit http://www.bgclynx.org/community_ronan.asp or call: (406) 676-5437.