Gala fundraiser

Board members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tracy and doctors affiliated with Sutter Tracy Community Hospital are all smiles Nov. 2 as hospital CEO David Thompson (center) presents a check to club CEO Kelly Wilson for $50,000. It is the third $50,000 donation Sutter Health has made to the clubs this year.

After what might be a crippling loss of funds in another community, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tracy has almost raised enough money to cover a half-million-dollar fundraising shortfall reported earlier this year.

On May 21, the club received word that it would not get almost $500,000 in grant money from the U.S. Department of Education through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program. The club had received that grant since 2009. The state, which administers and distributes the $136 million in federal funds, denied the application because San Joaquin County, which applied on the club’s behalf, failed to include a co-applicant — a new requirement for 2018.

Despite the shortfall, CEO Kelly Wilson said the club’s board of directors was determined to raise the money and had closed about 90 percent of the gap by Nov. 2, the date of the club’s annual fundraising gala.

“Right now we’re probably about $40,000 shy of our $500,000 goal,” Wilson said Nov. 13. “We’re really, really close.”

In June, Wilson told the Tracy Press that the club might have to cut activities and food programs during school breaks because of the half-million-dollar funding loss.

“I’m feeling more and more like we’re not going to have to make those decisions,” she said last week, adding that the $460,000 raised in the past five months would cover the club members’ needs for the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. “We’re good to go on that. We’ll be business as usual during those breaks. Spring break, same thing. Pretty confident that won’t be affected at all. What it comes down to is where we land with summer.”

Three major donations of $50,000 came this year from Sutter Tracy Community Hospital.

“We are proud to support the Boys and Girls Club of Tracy,” CEO David Thompson wrote in a Nov. 14 email. “The mission of Sutter Tracy Community hospital is to improve the health and well-being of our community. Healthy lifestyles start with our youth. Our local hospital is invested in promoting organizations such as Boys and Girls Club, which have the same interests.”

Wilson was grateful for the hospital’s support.

“They’re just such a great partner, and they get the link between the health of our kids and the ultimate health of our community. We’re just so thankful to Dave and his team,” she said.

The county is filing another grant application on the club’s behalf this month, and Wilson said it is co-applying with Tracy Unified School District to meet the state’s new requirement.

“We’re still up in the air,” she said. “But we’ve kind of been told by the county that this isn’t a ‘gimme.’ It’s not a for-sure thing just because we’ve met that requirement. It’s very competitive.”

Wilson added that parents can help even if they don’t have the money to donate. The state considers the percentage of kids across the community who qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches when deciding to award grants, so every family in Tracy that fills out an application can improve the odds. Parents can also turn to their employers.

“Go to your company and see if they have some kind of community support that they do,” Wilson suggested. “The company might not be in Tracy but a lot of their employees might be in Tracy, and the employees wouldn’t be able to work if there weren’t a safe place for kids to go.”

But Wilson was cheered by how Tracy residents had already rallied around their young club members.

“I would just like to express my thanks, gratitude,” she said. “To think we had $500,000 to raise back in June and we’re almost there. I honestly — I can’t be thankful enough. I just want the community to know that.”

Contact Michael Ellis Langley at mlangley@tracypress.com or 830-4231.

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