A Harford club started two years ago to give children educational and social programs has hit the skids.
The administrator has been forced to resign, needed donations aren't coming in and youth members have quit.
But the board of directors of the group, the Harford County Boys and Girls Club, hope they can turn the organization around in the newyear. They want to hire another administrator, attract more donors and enroll more youths in the club's programs.
"We're real upbeat about the club," said Jerry Lacey, acting president of the club's board of directors. "What we did was good."
The club's troubles came to a head late last month when the 15-member board of directors voted to ask their administrator, Charles "Chip" McGough, to resign becauseof controversy surrounding his management. The directors must honor McGough's severance package, which includes health insurance and 30 days' salary of about $3,300.
McGough could not be reached for comment.
The Aberdeen-based club formed in spring 1990 to provide educational and social programs to the county's underprivileged youths.
The club provided youths with swimming programs, cooking classes and field trips to Rehoboth Beach, Del., the Baltimore Zoo and the National Aquarium in Baltimore last year. The club has a $5 annual membership fee.
Patricia Skebeck, principal of the Hall's Cross Roads Elementary School in Aberdeen, said about 150 students from her school participated in the club's programs, including field trips, tutoring services and after-school activities.
"It's a definite plus," Skebeck said of the club. "I am hoping we can reorganize it and bring it back, because the children miss it."
At its peak, the club had about 400 members, but when the group marched in the Aberdeen holiday parade in early December, only about a dozen members showed up, said Ruth Elliott, an Aberdeen commissioner and member of the club's board.
Meanwhile, the weak economy and controversy over McGough has hurt the group's ability to attract donations, Lacey said.
A November fund-raiser featuring Cal Ripken Jr., his brother Bill and their father, Cal Sr., was successful, bringing about 945 participants and generating about $16,000 in donations, Lacey said.
But much of the money from the fund-raiser went to paying bills, such as bus rentals and insurance fees, which the club owed before the Nov. 9 event, Elliott said.
Lacey said the club had $9,526 in its bank account as of November, the most recent month for which financial information is available.
But the club has a number of large expenses yet to pay, including McGough's severance package, due in January, Lacey said.
Theboard asked McGough to resign because the club could no longer afford to pay his annual salary of about $40,000 with the few donations and grants coming in, Lacey said.
The club failed to get two United Way grants, about $50,000 each, Lacey said. Contributions from the private sector, which account for about 75 percent of the club's budget, also are down.
The board had hoped that the Ripken fund-raiser would generate interest in the club, but that didn't happen because ofthe controversy surrounding McGough scared away potential donors, Lacey said.
Elliott said the controversy started when the directors started voicing dissatisfaction with McGough's management. While McGough was good at developing programs for youths, the directors did notbelieve he did enough to secure grants, she said.
The directors hope to hire a new administrator in several months, Elliott said. Until then, the club will operate with volunteers.