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Girls and Boys Club Expanding to Perham

When Jill Shipman stepped into the Boys and Girls Club of Detroit Lakes, she knew it was exactly what the Perham area needed, too. She found plenty of support from the Perham community and from the Detroit Lakes club.

Shipman, who heads up the national program Kinship in Perham that mentors children one-on-one, said she got a tour of the facility and saw all the kids and programs and thought, "oh, this fills the gap" between what her mentorship program provides and what a club could provide kids in need of more.

So with some help from the Detroit Lakes club, the Boys and Girls Club of the Perham Area is opening next month.

It's been a two and a half year process, but all parties involved are excited for the new venture.

Boys and Girls Club of Detroit Lakes Executive Director Pat Petermann will be executive director of the Perham club as well under a management agreement, but the Perham club has an advisory board of its own and its own staff for the summer programming.

Shipman said the group put out a survey of Perham residents to see if there was a need for a club with after-school and summer programming for kids. They received 170 responses that said yes, absolutely, there is a need in the Perham community.

So in order to open a club, the Perham club had to open under the umbrella of an existing club, that club being the Detroit Lakes one. They started the process of chartering another Boys and Girls Club of America club.

After a brief stall, Petermann said he received a call saying, "We want to do this. Help us."

So help he did.

The Perham group of about 12 people had to go through a 10-step process to qualify to be a charter club. Petermann said the Perham group met those requirements very quickly, within a few months.

The one-year management contract includes Petermann serving as executive director, and two other staffers at the Detroit Lakes club taking care of some of the programming and bookkeeping.

Three members of the Perham advisory council also sit on the Detroit Lakes board of directors now, representing the new sister club.

"It's a marriage of the two (clubs)," Petermann said. "They are an awesome group who are passionate about kids."

Scheduled to open June 6, there are already 42 kids signed up for summer programming at the Perham club. The goal was to have 50 kids, which Petermann said they'll easily have in no time.

"Everything we see with DL and Pat, it's just a good fit. To work with Pat in DL, he's just been a great support. The whole board has been," Shipman said.

The summer program is being held in Calvary Lutheran Church. There are two full-time staffers hired and another position in the process of being filled.

The programming will be modeled after Detroit Lakes', and kids will use the Perham Area Community Center for activities.

"It's coming on very fast so we're trying to get our I's dotted and T's crossed before June 6," he said. The Perham board is "very excited and very supportive of the process, so I see is as being a success."

Once the summer is over, the new club will need a permanent home. Once the hospital in Perham moves to its new location in January, the club will reside in the old hospital building. Between summer and January though, it's still up in the air.

Originally, Shipman said, they planned to not open until January because of location issues, but after hearing from enough parents that they didn't have an affordable place for their children for the summer, "that's when you look them in the eye and just say, 'oh man, we gotta do something now.'"

Seeing the support and the kids signing up for summer programming, "it just makes you realize that we're doing what we should be doing," Shipman said. "The numbers are there and we've got some great people stepping up, especially on our committee."

Like the Detroit Lakes club, the Perham club will be opening a thrift store, which will be located at 900 East Main Street in Perham, next to Hoot's Marine.

Reuse It thrift store will be opening later this week, with a grand opening on Friday at 10 a.m.

Shipman said they are accepting donations or furniture, tools, automotive, recycled and reused products like paint and household goods. No clothing though.

They will be open Tuesday through Saturday.

"The ball is rolling. There's no turning back now," Shipman said with a laugh.