Rain has not been a friend to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County.
Since the club opened its Armstrong Youth Center on Niles Street in 1997, it has had trouble with an old roof that leaks when it rains, forcing the club to cancel or delay activities. Staff have even had to cover their work stations with tarps to prevent them from being damaged.
That will soon end as Aera Energy announced on Wednesday that it is investing $280,000 into a new roof at the facility and a 74,000-kilowatt solar installation that could save up to $60,000 a year in electricity costs for the club.
“We at Aera are very proud to partner with this organization, to nurture the next generation and prepare them for success," said President/CEO Christina Sistrunk. “It is my hope, and Aera’s, that the support we provide today makes that work a little easier.”
The idea to fund the new roof came out of a meeting of the Boys & Girls Club board of directors last year, Sistrunk said.
“They were wanting to find a way of (finding) enough revenue that wouldn’t take away services for the kids,” she said.
Utility bills have been as high as $9,000 a month, according to Boys & Girls Club of Kern County Executive Director Zane Smith.
“You have to keep the students cool,” he said. “In a 22,000-square-feet facility, it’s a challenge. We’ve tried to be creative with our donor dollars to keep the kids cool as much as we can, but we would rather use those dollars to buy program supplies, take them on field trips and help their dreams come true.”
“I am absolutely confident that every dollar that (Smith) and his team doesn’t have to spend on energy bills is going to go right back to helping the kids in our community thrive,” Sistrunk said.
Boys & Girls Club board president Matt Damian thanked Aera for their investment on Wednesday.
“It’s really an incredible investment that you made here today,” he said. “Not only will that generosity make a huge immediate impact on the club, but generations of children to come are going to benefit from that investment.”