Community

Funding squeeze forces Langley teen center to close on Fridays

The Hub after-school drop-in center for teens in Langley will close on Fridays due to a loss in funding, South Whidbey Youth Connection (SWYC) executive director Duane Gimbel said.

The center’s last Friday of operation was this past week.

The Hub, run by SWYC for 21 years in the basement of Langley United Methodist Church, had just reopened in September after closing for the summer for the first time.

The Hub offers free snacks, games, activities and music lessons for middle school and high school students who drop by after classes during the week.

Gimbel said there was more than a 200-percent increase in teen visits to the Hub in the past year, with about 300 students per year taking advantage of the program, an average of 30 per day.

Beginning next week, the Hub will be open from Monday through Thursday from 2 to 5:30 p.m.

Gimbel said Monday that to make up for loss of funding, SWYC also will suspend the Teen Employment Experience Network, which connects young people looking for part-time work to people in the community looking for workers.

The program was launched this past summer. Gimbel said the manager of the program also will be laid off.

He said that until this month, it has cost about $10,000 per month to run the Hub. Most of the money goes for food, activities, salaries and funding for instructors, he said. The church provides its basement space for free.

Gimbel said SWYC also will eliminate a kitchen-helper position at the Hub, and will cut remaining Hub staff time by 20 percent.

He said SWYC also will reduce its own administrative staff time by 50 percent.

“We believe these drastic cuts will allow us to keep the Hub open,” Gimbel said. “This has been a difficult decision, especially since this looks like another record year for attendance. September numbers outpaced previous years.”

South Whidbey Youth Connection was hit by a funding double whammy, Gimbel said.

He said a federal $100,000 per year, 10-year federal Drug Free Communities Support Grant ended in September, with no extension possible.

This followed a reduction this past July of more than 65 percent in a state Community Mobilization Against Substance Abuse and Violence program stipend.

Last school year, the state program provided $55,000; in July the amount was cut back by the state Legislature to $14,000, Gimbel said.

Additional funding for the Hub has included $17,500 from United Way, and from donations and fundraising events, Gimbel said.

“Alternative funding sources have dried up due to the downturn in the economy,” he added.

For more information about the Hub or South Whidbey Youth Connection, call

221-4142 or e-mail duane@swyouth.com.

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