A year ago, Rotary Club member Bill Tennant had little hope for the languishing Braintree Community Youth Center, which he helped found along with other Rotary Club members.
The fund-raiser, hosted at Emerald Hall in late January, to save the youth center was a last-ditch effort, a call to residents that to save this community asset.
And boy, did residents answer.
“The results of last year, we ended up with almost $40,000 raised, and the place was just about the close. Since then, we’ve had a number of new volunteers, and membership has increased dramatically with 70-80 kids a night. Our board of directors has grown solely because of that night and the amount of exposure we got, thanks to everybody. It’s moving along nicely, its much better,” Tennant said.
Along with a doubling of membership, the center has gained new spark, and has become a gathering place for teens and local youth.
“Its been wonderful,” Tennant said. “We’re happy about [the change] and plan to keep that.”
No longer on the brink of collapse, this year’s fund-raiser on Jan. 27 will have a much different feel.
“Financially I doubt [this year will equal last year’s],” Tennant said. “I think one of the reasons last year was so successful was because we were on the brink of closure. That’s not the case anymore. We hope to expand and keep moving in that direction, but I don’t think the outpouring from the community will be as big. We’re in much better shape than we were.”
Tennant still hopes to make $20,000 this time around from ticket sales, which average about $30 a person for dinner and entertainment, and from the live auction.
The money would go toward upgrading equipment at the center as well as possibly installing electronic membership cards.
“We’d do it through a scanner, which is done in some youth centers around, and for security and safety it would be nice to keep track of who is coming and when, so we could modify our events,” Tennant said.
Though this year’s fund-raiser is less of a cry for help, it will share many features from last year’s event – the Cookout in January will have hot dogs and hamburgers, with DJ Ray, who has donated his services for multiple dances at the center this year.
The Weitbrechts, professional auctioneers who live in Braintree, will be conducting a live auction for free.
Tickets cannot be purchased at the door, and as last year’s event sold out people are encouraged to purchase tickets as soon as possible.
Tickets can be purchased on the Youth Center website.
Dinner is served at 6 p.m. The event will end at 11 p.m.