Early in the pandemic, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Huntington Valley was the only Boys & Girls Club between Long Beach and the U.S.-Mexico border that was open, said CEO Tanya Hoxsie. They mostly were serving children of medical workers from nearby Hoag Hospital and Memorial Care.
“It was tough, but we knew we needed to stay open,” Hoxsie said. “It would have cost us a lot less money to turn off the lights and go home. But we didn’t.”
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Huntington Valley operates two preschools licensed for about 300 children pre-pandemic, as well as clubs for school-age children in the Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley area.
The school age clubs and preschools both received CARES Act funding approved by the Orange County Board of Supervisors to help stay afloat during the pandemic. Currently, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Huntington Valley serves about 750 children per day, down from about 1,800.
“Funding is always important for nonprofits but in 2020 it became critical for our survival,” Hoxsie said. “We were fighting to survive.”
“Since we never closed, the first few weeks of the pandemic were especially challenging. The preschools stayed consistently enrolled because preschoolers are not the age group that can stay home while parents worked from home. Our capacity, unfortunately, was instantly cut in half. Our preschool classrooms are built to hold 24 students at a time. But state guidelines limited group size to 12,” Hoxsie said. “In some larger rooms, we were able to divide the room in half with partitions and that helped. Students and staff are separated into cohorts and as of today, that has not changed.”
“Our capacity reduced, but our overhead continued,” Hoxsie said.
In normal years, she said, the preschools would break even financially. But now, half the revenue was removed and the costs had increased to about 120 percent of what they once were, Hoxsie said.
Employees are feeling hopeful about a COVID-19 vaccine rollout. To keep staff employed, staff members who normally are part of the clubs’ 18-bus transportation program are pivoting to help out with sanitizing and cleaning instead.
“Everybody is stepping up,” Hoxsie said. “The people that are here are real heroes.”
Most of the CARES Act funds are going to pay employee salaries, she said, as well as supplies in the classrooms. Without grant funds like the CARES Act, they would have had to close at least one preschool.
“We are so thankful when groups like this offer the support that we need,” Hoxsie said. “It fills out heart. And our hearts need to be filled.”
Learn more about Boys & Girls Clubs of Huntington Valley here.