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      Save the San Benito Boys & Girls Club

      Approximately 75 children fill the San Benito Boys & Girls Club each day, after school.

      They receive tutoring and a helping hand with homework, then participate in activities from arts and crafts to dodge ball.

      However, all that could soon come to a screeching halt.

      Boys & Girls Club Board President Tommy Ramirez, also the chief at the Derrell Hester Detention Center in San Benito, said there is only enough money in the bank to run operations for about 120 days.

      There's been steep cuts in state funding and especially city funding.

      This year, Ramirez said, the city only budgeted $9,000 club, which has an operating budget of about $110,000 per year.

      "There's something called re-allocation of funds, Ramirez said. I think if they really looked hard and wide, they would find some monies they could reallocate. Maybe there's a few potholes we won TMt fill this year in order to help the club a little bit."

      Ramirez said the Boys & Girls Club is so much more than just an expense for the city.

      It's a safe and fun haven for children in the community, some that otherwise would be out on the streets.

      Ramirez has headed the juvenile detention center for the past 10 years and said statistics show that youth that is not involved in after school or extracurricular activities, are three to four times more likely to become criminals than those who are.

      "I don TMt like to be reactive to kids after they get in trouble, Ramirez said. We're trying to do some proactive things in the community, so that the kids never end-up in our system, locked up and in prison."

      Prevention Team Leader Jaclyn Tovar said staff has been tracking children's attendance and grades and rewarding them for meeting certain goals.

      They hope it will teach the children to value education and about good behavior at school and at home.

      "They tell us, oh miss, I got in trouble at school today, TM Tovar said. We ask, ~well what did you do? We tell them maybe (they) can learn from that, maybe (they) can do better, (teach them) right from wrong, and that (they TMre) not supposed to talk back or fight. Of course we (teach) them (about) the consequences."

      Ramirez adds he is a product of the Boys and Girls club and if the establishment in San Benito is forced to close, after more than 40 years serving the community, it will be a sad day for San Benito.