CONCORD — The boards of directors for the Boys & Girls Club of the Lakes Region and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Concord yesterday announced that they have voted to enter into a management contract with intent to merge.
Chris Emond, executive director of the Greater Concord clubs, said that his administrative staff has already begun overseeing the Lakes Region club and once the merger closes will assume responsibility for its administration, which he stressed will achieve efficiencies of scale that in turn will significantly reduce its operating costs. The executive and administrative functions of the merged entity will be headquartered in Concord.
Emond emphasized that the merger agreement will include a provision that the property of the Laconia club, the former St. James Episcopal Church complex off North Main Street, will be "preserved in perpetuity of the benefit of the children of the Lakes Region". He explained that this provision will ensure that the merged entity cannot sell the property and, if for any reason, it were to be sold, will provide that the proceeds be placed in an endowment or trust for the purpose of serving the children of the Lakes Region.
"This is very important," Emond said, adding that the two clubs will continue to operate under their separate names and with their own boards of directors and programming personnel. Likewise, the two clubs will maintain their fundraising programs, so that money raised in the Lakes Region will be put to work in the Lakes Region. However, Emond noted that the Greater Concord clubs employ a development director and grant writer, both of whom will be able to assist the Lakes Region club with its fundraising efforts. "We're not going to leave them to their own devices," he remarked.
In a prepared statement, Walter Flinn, president of the Lakes Region club, said that "any time two entities merge, there are certain operations that can be combined that will save precious funds." The Greater Concord club, he continued, " brings tremendous experience in youth development programming and fundraising. "We feel this the right decision for families and children in Laconia."
Police Chief Chris Adams, who has served as a director of the Lakes Region club for eight years and president for two years, described the proposed merger as "a win-win. It's all about serving the kids," he said, adding that the merger promises to enable the Lakes Region club to extend its reach beyond Laconia. "We are the Boys & Girls of the Lakes Region," he noted.
Flinn said that the dialogue between the two clubs opened last summer after Lakes Region club lost its second executive director in three years. After undertaking due diligence, the directors and staff of both clubs concluded they would each benefit by merging. "Once our board had the information," Emond said, it was a pretty quick decision."
Donald T. Segal, president of the Greater Concord club, said in a formal statement that "our strategic plan includes exploring opportunities for growth, when it makes financial sense and where there is strong support in the community we are entering. Laconia met those criteria." He also noted that the community, "with exceptionally high poverty levels," needed a strong club to support its youth.
During the past 15 years, the Greater Concord club has merged with organizations in Hopkinton and Allenstown, expanded operations in Warner and Franklin and partnered with two elementary schools in Concord. Emond said that the club has has learned how to operate satellite units and rally support in the communities it serves.