Defund the Boys & Girls Club? Jelleff Supporters Protest           

At a hastily called emergency meeting on Wednesday, May 22, at the Jelleff Recreation Center, more than a dozen children and teenagers with grim faces held bright signs with messages opposing a very close-to-home budget cut.

“Keep Jelleff Alive!” read one. “We are a community. We are a family! Jelleff Must Stay.” “Don’t Shut Down Jelleff! begged another. “We have the best teachers and programs! If you do this, you will hurt kids! Would you cut programing for those who need it most? NO.”

“We just found out that our annual funding from the city to run Georgetown’s 70-year-old Boys & Girl’s Club at the Jelleff Recreation Center at 3265 S. St. NW, for fiscal year 2024-25, has suddenly disappeared from the 2025 budget,” a clearly shocked Mike McDonald, the vice president of the organization told a gathering of club members and Georgetown leaders.

“That $600,000 — a pittance amount of a $2.2 billion-plus city budget —  provides after school activities and a daily meal year round for some 1,500 Kindergarteners to12th-grade boys and girls from every ward in the District,” Gabrielle Webster, President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, told the crowd. “The Georgetown B&GC is one of the oldest and most active in the District and in the nation. It has nurtured the growth, well-being and leadership skills of over 100,000 area youth for 71 years just in the Jelleff building alone.”

“Of course, we knew that by next summer or maybe the fall of 2025 construction for the almost-decided new building will begin,” said Georgetown Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Kishan Putta. “We have been asking with increasing urgency where all the kids who now use the space will go during the construction. What alternative sites are being planned as is normal with youth programs? But no one expected this: that the D.C Council would just decide to defund and close the program for the next conceivably two years.”

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners Daniel Ciao and Putta say they first learned about the eviction of the operating funds for the Boys & Girl’s Club from the D.C. budget about two weeks ago. “There has been a lot of communications with us and city leaders but so far nothing has changed,” Putta said. “So, we decided to go public.”

Ward 2 Council member Brooke Pinto has expressed concern. In a text to Webster that was shown to The Georgetowner, Pinto wrote: “I am deeply concerned about the cuts in the budget to the Boys & Girls Club that provides vital after-school programming for kids from all eight wards.” Pinto apparently mentioned she was going on a the Las Vegas retail convention trip with Mayor Bowser, other Council members, as well as chairman Phil Mendelson, the week before Memorial Day weekend, and might have a chance to talk to him about it.

“Public safety in D.C. remains a pressing priority issue in D.C. as well as growing our neighborhoods so that the District remains a city that attracts families, professionals and residents from across our nation and beyond,” Chao wrote in a letter to the Mayor and the Council Chairman. “The Boys & Girls Club of Washington’s programs do just that.”

“Oversights happen, mistakes happen, and I urge everyone with influence and the power that you hold to please restore full funding to the Boys & Girls Club of Washington in the FY 2025 Department of Recreation budget,” concludes Chao’s letter.

Putta told The Georgetowner that the commissioners hope to have a meeting with Mendelson before Memorial Day.



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