Paulding center can’t afford to stay open, families can’t afford to lose it

Parents upset over boys and girls club closing
Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 6:54 PM EDT
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DALLAS, Ga. (CBS46) - Some Paulding County families say they’re devastated and scrambling to find afterschool care and programs as the area’s local Boys & Girls Club announced it’s indefinite closure.

Boys & Girls Paulding Club has been in the community for 20 years. If or when it closes, stakeholders believe it would leave more than just a small gap.

While the organization says it can’t afford to stay open, some argue they can’t afford to lose it come September 30th.

“When we first received news that our club was closing indefinitely, a feeling of grief came upon us,” said a local parent in Tuesday night’s Paulding School Board meeting. “The feeling you feel when you know you’re about to lose something you love. My second thought was my daughter and how to explain to her why.”

The meeting echoed concerns among families even before this week and concerns which will continue long after, too.

“Why are children losing access to an organization with evidence of having positive and influential impact and the ability to cultivate our youth,” she questioned the board.

The impassioned plea led the district to issue a statement asking the Boys & Girls Paulding Club to remain open:

“The Paulding County chapter of the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta has served the students of Paulding County for many years, so we were disappointed to learn of the organization’s decision to close the Paulding County club, and with only 60 days’ notice. The Boys and Girls Club provides unique programming and affordable after-school care, so this decision will have a significant impact on many of our families. We encourage the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta to reconsider.”

But a letter to parents dated July 29th shows the organization cited long term financial stability, insufficient resources for facility maintenance, and inability to find alternative locations all as factors.

“These kids have no alternate situation right now. I’m looking around the area, I don’t see no basketball courts-- not a lot for these kids to be engaged in,” explained Larry Jones, an advocate and owner of the nearby daycare facility Start Bright Academy.

Jones notes if kids aren’t offered positive outlets, they’re more likely to find negative ones like crime, gangs, unruly behavior.

It’s why he stopped by to see what can be done for the site which has served an area predominantly made up of black and brown families.

“These are the ages from 6 to 13 when they’re really being molded,” he added.

However, ask West Metro NAACP, the onus for solutions is not just on the Boys & Girls Club. West Metro NAACP President Joy Ponder-Batesis calling on the county government to fund more childcare programs and wrap-around services.

“It is their responsibility to take care of the needs of citizens of Paulding County that voted them in, to serve them.” Ponder-Bates continued, “so with this closure happening, we’re concerned about what Paulding Government-- more specifically Parks & Rec-- is going to do.”

In the meantime, anxious families are left waiting.

CBS46 reached out to Boys & Girls Club, we have not yet received a statement.