By Jack Minch
Sentinel & Enterprise
November 4, 2009
LEOMINSTER — The Fallon Community Health Plan awarded the Boys & Girls Club of North Central Massachusetts a $15,000 grant Tuesday.
The money will be used to pay transportation costs for more Fitchburg students to attend after-school programs at the Lindell Avenue facility, said the club’s executive director, Donata Martin.
Transportation is expected to be in place within 30 days, said Ladd Lavallee, chairman of the club’s Board of Trustees.
The club serves about 150 students daily. Officials expect about 50 more Fitchburg children to use the club weekly when transportation is increased, Martin said.
Fallon Community Health Plan received about 70 grant applications from around the state, but only awarded six totaling about $125,000, said Kate McEvoy-Zdonczyk, Fallon’s senior director of government and community relations.
The economy makes programs such as those provided by the Boys & Girls Club important for children and their families, but it also makes fundraising difficult, said Lavallee.
“So a check like this is really what makes the Boys & Girls Club work,” Lavallee said.
The Lindell Avenue club offers good value for the investment, McEvoy-Zdonczyk said.
Rather than funding duplicate efforts in Fitchburg, children can ride a MART bus to an existing program with a proven track record, she said.
“I think for this particular program, what was compelling was that it’s one of the ways we don’t duplicate services and in this economy that’s so important,” McEvoy-Zdonczyk said. “So essentially, … the facility is here, the program is here, so to provide transportation is a no-brainer if that is the barrier to getting kids into programs that exist, that are good, that they want to be in.”