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Searching for a home ... again

Since its beginnings in Prineville a decade ago, teh Boys and Girls Club has moved eight times

by: KEVIN GABOURY/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - The Prineville Branch of the Boys and Girls Club, which has been at its location on East First Street for nearly tow years, has to vacate the building by Aug. 1, 2008.  In the photo above, club staff member Evelyn Dubisar plays a game of ball with youth.

After only two years in its location at 757 East First Street, the Prineville branch of the Boys and Girls Club is being required to move. Again.
   "We were officially notified Monday that we are to be out of the building by the first of August," said Newell Clarno, chairperson of the Branch Advisory Council, which is the decision-making body for the Prineville branch.
   The current club has a lease with the Crook County School District and has had an excellent working relationship with them, Clarno said. However, the Crooked River School now needs more space for special education classrooms, so the building was deemed the logical choice.
   "It wasn't an easy decision for them," Clarno said. The district is also helping in the process of finding a new location.
   Being moved around is nothing new to the Prineville Club. Since its inception in the community 10 years ago, the club has moved eight times. Prineville Branch Director Carol Parker said she still gets calls from parents asking where the club is located that year.
   "There's this perception that we're sort of vagabonds," she said. "And that's not good for the kids."
   Although attendance for the club has been down of late due to more parents working fewer hours, it still averages 100 kids after school on any given day. This has stretched the 1,896 square foot building far beyond its capacity. In fact, Parker mentioned that the building is at 430 percent of capacity according to Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
   "We know that this space is too small," Parker said. The club's saving grace, she said, has been access to the Crooked River School's gym, and gym access may be a determining factor in the club's new location. As for cost of the new building, both Parker and Clarno say it is too early to tell.
   "If it has access to a school gym again, we can probably get by with about 2,025 square feet," Parker said. "That doesn't allow much room for growth, but it would suffice. If we don't have gym access, it's going to take considerably more."
   But being constantly on the move has been frustrating for Parker and everyone involved with the club.
   "When I took this job two years ago, my goal was to have the club in its own building by the time I retired, which is in July of 2010," she said. "We knew that this was coming. We can't keep expecting other people to make space for us forever. We need to step up and be a real club. We need to have our own real space. We're very grateful for all the support and the places who have allowed us to use their spaces. But we need a home."
   For Parker, a permanent location is key, and first and foremost in her mind are the kids the club serves.
   "We'll do what we have to do to serve the kids, and if that means moving to a place temporarily while we look for something more permanent, we'll do it. We're going to be here for the kids," Parker said.
   Branch personnel declined to release financial information regarding funding for a new home. They explained that the board of governors must first review this information before it is released.