The Penacook Community Center merges with the Boys and Girls Club

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The Penacook Community Center will be disbanded and become a division of the boys and girls clubs of central New Hampshire early this year.

The after-school and before-school programs at Penacook Elementary School and Washington Street Elementary School will move to the Boys and Girls Club location at 55 Bradley Street effective January 3. The Penacook Infant Program will also be relocating to Bradley Street, while toddlers and children go to the Eastman Early Learning Center at 15 Shawmut Street.

At some point after the merger is finalized, the plan is to return the center’s child care programs to Penacook.

The rates for the centre’s child care programs will increase by $ 10 per week, while the fees for the after-school programs will remain the same. Boys and Girls Club CEO Christopher Emond said a $ 25,000 grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation kept fees from rising further for parents.

“I wanted to make sure the transition was as painless as possible,” Emond said. “We are committed to ensuring that fees do not exceed this increase for the year.”

Seniors who have participated in the Penacook Community Center Seniors Program can enroll in the free Goodlife Programs and Activities program at 254 N. State St in Concord. Participants saw their annual fee of $ 45 from the Penacook Community Center reimbursed.

The initial financial blow from the pandemic, the prospect of costly repairs to the building and the difficulty of hiring a new general manager all led to the decision to dissolve the Penacook community center, said Cathy Furlong, chairman of the board. organisation.

“The simplest way to put it: COVID has been the last straw for us,” Furlong said. The end of the programs in March 2020 resulted in a loss of income. Even when the center was cleared to open months later, the required staff ratios meant the organization could only accept half of its regular childcare capacity while paying all of its staff.

While federal grants, donations and paycheck protection program money have helped keep the organization afloat, Furlong said the community center is still making up for losses from last year.

The dilapidated condition of the four buildings in the center worsened the financial outlook. One building has significant structural problems, while others are over 100 years old and in need of upgrades to their electrical, plumbing and heating systems.

Team Engineering of Bedford has evaluated all buildings and will work with the Boys and Girls Club and the Penacook Community Center board of directors to determine the extent of renovations required.

Faced with looming new spending and unable to hire a new CEO, the board had to consider other options to avoid shutting down entirely.

“Our top priority was child care for families and jobs for our staff,” Furlong said. “We decided that it would probably be difficult to get the money to do the repairs we needed, so we made the decision to consider a merger with someone else. “

Opened in 1954, the center has served several purposes over the years, hosting dances, sports games, summer camps and exercise classes.

“He’s always moved on, he’s never been the same,” Furlong said. “He always looks at what the community needs and then he builds himself from there.”

The centre’s gymnasium, one of the buildings in need of repair, was constructed by the work of volunteers from Penacook during nights and weekends.

“It’s really Penacook,” Ward 1 Councilor Brent Todd said. “The community really built this organization from the ground up. “

Emond said the Boys and Girls Club has merged with other child care organizations while allowing them to run their own operations and retain their titles, as it has done with Lakes Region Child Care.

“What’s important to us as an organization is that they don’t lose their identity,” Emond said. “It will continue to operate as a community center in Penacook. “

Over the next few months, the two organizations will work out the details of the merger, hire and on-board staff, and determine the extent of construction needed on the old buildings at the center.

“The goal is definitely to have a presence at Penacook, we just don’t know what that will look like right now,” Furlong said. The timeframe for returning child care programs to Penacook could depend on repairs to the building and how quickly staff can be hired.

“There is sadness because we know that part of the CCP is ending,” Furlong said. “It’s a transition for everyone but I feel like it’s going to be wonderful. When the dust settles, it will be great for everyone.

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