Atlantic City Program Back Up and Running [AUDIO]
Things were looking bleak for the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City in early May when they closed their doors for the first time in 40 years.
David Ross, Interim Chief Professional Officer, said increasing overhead and dwindling donations put the club in too compromising of a financial position.
"We needed to cease operations and get the house in order, and we've really tried to go about the business of doing that," Ross said. "Frankly, the community has responded extraordinarily."
Ross said that the community has constantly asked how they can help, with donations and grants pouring in and fundraisers being held to help rescue the club from its debt.
No gift was more essential to the club's recent reopening than from Lewis Katz, the Philadelphian businessman and Longport native, who tragically died in a plane crash just days after his donation helped resuscitate the program.
"He's (Katz) really made the summer programs possible, and he's also given us the opportunity to generate the resources we need to continue on in operation, not just in the fall," Ross explained.
His death has left a gaping hole in the Boys and Girls Club family, but also has officials motivated to make him proud.
The summer program, which kicks off today, provides programs and services ranging from sports to recreation to arts and crafts to meals. Most importantly, it gives parents a safe place to send children while they are at work.
"There's an awful lot that's going on," he said. "Hopefully, these things are going to build healthy lifestyles and healthy habits in the kids."
While they have bought some time to get their finances straightened out, Ross said more fundraising and community outreach needs to be done to ensure that their doors can remain open.
"The outlook for the future is good, but we are certainly going to continue to need to go to the community to generate the resources that are required to serve these kids every day," he said.
"Closing or ceasing of operations has allowed us to catch up. Lewis' gift will give us additional time to get ahead."
Ross said they have dedicated their energies to exceed Lewis' expectations and make this summer program and others moving forward the best in the history of the club.
"We were privileged to know him, honored to be the recipient of a gift from him, and he will not be forgotten anytime soon," Ross said.