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Boys and Girls Club set for greater community service

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The Roswell Boys and Girls Club reopened to the public Aug. 28. The CEO of the Ruidoso Boys and Girls Club, Tim Coughlin, is now CEO of both Ruidoso’s and Roswell’s clubs. He has hired Gwen Peterson to be the director of the Roswell club. She brings a variety of work and life experiences that will help her to develop the club.

“I was a bookkeeper most of my life,” Peterson said. “I worked for an attorney in town. I opened my own in-home day care business. I’ve been a substitute teacher, mostly at middle schools. I’m a mother of five kids. My oldest, 21, is in the military, he’s a paratrooper. I have an 18-year-old daughter and three younger boys ages 10, 9 and 4.”

Coughlin said he will have his hands full bringing the Roswell organization along.

“The biggest problem is that there’s so much to be done,” he said, “We’re making a list, trying to knock out one thing at a time and move forward. The ultimate goal is to get more kids into the club. I’d love to see this club back up to 80 to 100 kids a day, and I think we can do it. I think the longer potential is to have hundreds of kids a day, not just in this location but in the entire Roswell area.”

Coughlin has plans to serve every area of town.

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“This location fits this neighborhood,” he said. “The biggest problem is transportation, trying to get the kids from the schools here. We’re working trying to contract out to get a bus to bring the kids here. If we can do that we may be able to lower the cost of transportation.”

Ultimately, he sees Boys and Girls Clubs all over Roswell.

“The difficulty in a city the size of Roswell,” he said, “is if someone’s on the other end of town they might not be able to budget the gas or time to bring their kids here every day. So the goal is to expand further into the community and not just be in this one location. We want to open up other locations wherever we can.

“We want to get into the neighborhoods where the kids are. That way the parents don’t have to go more than a few blocks to pick them up, or if the parents allow it they can walk home. Then we can serve a lot more kids.”

Boys and Girls Clubs have a lot of programs to help kids grow into productive adults. One that Coughlin plans to bring in is a financial literacy program.

“There’s a program called Money Matters, in the Boys and Girls Club,” he said. “It’s been sponsored by a number of different financial institutions over the years. Unfortunately, many of our families don’t have the financial skills to balance their own checkbooks. Many don’t have checking accounts.

“We start with how much they’re getting paid, and how much is spent on gas. A lot of this is designed to get them to go home and talk with their parents about money. Part of it is that it rolls around into our concession stand.”

The program has been going on in Ruidoso and is a success.

“In Ruidoso we’ve got kids third through fifth grade running concession stands,” Coughlin said. “Then we teach them how to upsell. The kids are learning these basic skills that will get them entry level jobs when they’re old enough. When our kids go into the job market we send them with a letter of recommendation and many companies hire them on the spot when they see that letter because they know what we’ve been teaching them. That’s part of what it’s all about, teaching them to be good citizens and successful partners in the community.”

They have some immediate concerns that are currently keeping their attention.

“Short term,” Coughlin said, “we want to resolve the transportation issue so that we can get more kids in here. That’s one of our top goals. Next week we will be meeting about board redevelopment. We’re visiting how, as the two communities come together, we bring them together as one board. We’ve got new bylaws and one of the concerns was equal representation between Ruidoso and Roswell, no one community can have more than 60 percent of the board members.

“Any governing board member must have the global vision in place so it’s not just about Ruidoso, it’s not just about Roswell, it’s about the organization. At the same time we want to get a local advisory council, the easiest way to explain is kind of like a PTA in a school. They will be working with Gwen directly.”

They also have a vision to build upon.

“Long term we are looking at expanding services throughout the city of Roswell,” Coughlin said. “I would like to see us serving a couple hundred kids a day. We’re going to be advertising for a resource development coordinator. They will be based in Roswell going out helping with the fundraising and stewardship of donors. That will help with sustainability.”

Local business involvement is a part of the vision as well.

“The other thing I really want to work on is getting sponsors,” Coughlin said. “We have families that can’t afford the fees, especially if they have three kids. I’ve got a program that I can approach employers with where they can make a donation to the club into a directed scholarship fund, and they direct it in the name of the child of one of their employees. So it’s a benefit for the employee and a tax deduction for the company.”

They are working with Jim Burres of Roswell Parks and Recreation to turn the pool into a community garden. They have plans to start using a neglected part of the building as a teen center. It will be stocked with exercise equipment brought in from Ruidoso. Recently, they increased their staff so they can work with more kids now.

“Because of limited staffing we had a cap of 40 kids a day,” Coughlin said, “but now with Gwen and Keely here we have room for more kids, we just need to get them here.”

Some of the funding they need is being made available if they can match it.

“With this new transition,” Coughlin said, “Boys and Girls Clubs of America have committed to some funding to help get us going, but that funding does have a one to one match, so to get the full funding we have to raise the equal number of dollars, not just in Roswell but organization-wide. For 2017, they’ve committed to $75,000, another $75,000 in 2018 and $30,000 for 2019. We’re in a mad scramble to get the money raised for 2017.”

Coughlin and his staff have brought the Ruidoso Boys and Girls Club to a standard that effectively serves that community’s children. He’s now bringing his expertise to Roswell’s club so that children here can have a greater chance in life.

“Ruidoso is doing pretty good,” he said. “We need to put a lot of effort into growing Roswell into its full potential. For people who need tax deductions they should know that every dollar they donate is actually two dollars, thanks to the matching funds.”

Features reporter Curtis M. Michaels can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.