The Boys and Girls Clubs of Chaffee County, and the nearly thousand local youth they serve each year, just received a huge boost from the Chaffee County Department of Human Services and Chaffee County Board of County Commissioners in the form of a half-million-dollar cash donation.

The contribution is a special, one-time budget reallocation that will transfer $500,000 from the DHS fund balance to the Boys and Girls Club of Chaffee County specifically for their planned new facility construction in Buena Vista. The decision was ratified unanimously by the BOCC at their December 14th regular meeting and approved within the County’s 2022 budget.

The donation will help seed the Boys and Girls Club’s capital campaign for their Buena Vista facility, a 22,000 square foot multi-purpose center envisioned on the corner of Cedar and Evans Streets near the Buena Vista Community Center that will serve as BGCCC’s permanent home for programs in the north end of the county. The Boys and Girls Club anticipates breaking ground in 2023 on the parcel of land contributed by the Town of Buena Vista and estimates the construction will run between $4-$6 million.

Department of Human Services Director Dave Henson and DHS Finance Manager Jan Schmidt have been promoting the idea of applying DHS funds to the Boys and Girls Club Buena Vista facility capital campaign for the past several months. Henson and Schmidt met with the County Commissioners and County Administration numerous times to evaluate the opportunity for Boys and Girls Club and to consider other similar community-driven priorities. Brian Beaulieu, Boys & Girls Clubs of Chaffee County Executive Director, initially presented the proposal for Buena Vista facility to the BOCC at their September 13 Work Session meeting, outlining the concepts for the space and the vision for its community activation. As the plans for the Buena Vista Club facility were solidified, DHS and the BOCC recognized the clear alignment of these youth- and family-serving organizations and noted the lasting positive impact this contribution could make within their shared focus areas and to address needs of the local families they both serve.

Henson highlighted the ways in which the Department of Human Services and the Boys and Girls Club programs are complementary, noting, “All of us working within the Human Services realm absolutely believe in the importance of programs like Boys and Girls for our community and understand how the prosocial programs they provide offer protective factors for our youth. With their positive programs spanning areas like science, technology and arts, character and leadership development, recreation and healthy lifestyle, and career exploration, they’re helping kids thrive while also supporting families of those youth, which is what we’re here to do as well.”

Schmidt explained the origin of the donation funds, sharing that, “The DHS fund balance has grown over the past few years as the revenues from local taxes have exceeded the amount of required match for program administration and program operating expenses and benefit payments. By reallocating a portion of the DHS reserves to programs like Boys and Girls Club, we are able to apply those funds directly to support the human services needs of the community and maintain alignment with the original intent of the money.” Continued Schmidt, “DHS already contributes operating support for the work of the Boys and Girls Club through TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) funding, and this one-time donation is a way we can complement that on-going support in a meaningful way.”

The Commissioners were enthusiastic in their support of the one-time donation. Commissioner Keith Baker commented, “The Boys and Girls Club provides many services to the community and this investment from Human Services and the County furthers our county-wide priorities to support youth and working families.” 

Commissioner Rusty Granzella echoed the view, stating, “The community should know that the availability of this funding to support the Boys and Girls Club shows how the Department of Human Services has been a proficient organization over the past several years and maintains their finances in a very proper way.”

Following the BOCC’s vote to provide the donation for the Boys and Girls Club, Beaulieu reiterated his gratitude to DHS and the BOCC during the meeting. “The County’s long-term support of the Boys and Girls Club has really propelled us and sustained us and now with this legacy gift, you’re really providing the momentum and proof that the work will really contribute to the needs of our working families. We can leverage this investment to motivate others to contribute to this capital campaign. On behalf of our Board and the kids that we serve, a huge thank you,” shared Beaulieu.

Town of Buena Vista Administrator Phillip Puckett also relayed his appreciation for the donation, adding, “Given the growing need for space and services for the families in our community, the Town of Buena is grateful for this amazing county-wide support from the County Department of Human Services and Board of County Commissioners for the Boys and Girls Club new facility project. This financial commitment will help bring this Boys and Girls Club vision to fruition, a project the Town is excited to continue our partnership in as well.”

Henson concluded, “DHS is proud to support this project with the Boys and Girls Club and considers it to be an enhancement to the broader mission of our department and our service work for Chaffee County youth and families.”

The Department of Human Services and BOCC budgeted a total of $1 million for one-time local project support in 2022, leveraging the DHS fund balance reserve to support mission-aligned initiatives in the county. In addition to the $500,000 committed to Boys and Girls Club, DHS and the BOCC are currently evaluating funding for additional projects including the Jane’s Place project in Salida and other community-focused programs. The BOCC will vote separately on these donation decisions in the coming months following additional evaluation with DHS.