Pool tables, kitchen equipment, computers and other items used in the youth ministry program will be up for sale at this weekend’s yard sale to help close the books on the 15 year-old program.
A difficult economy, reduction in grants and gifts from the local community, and added expenses have created an operating deficit that cannot be resolved, according to its Director, Ron Vance. There are also issues between God’s NET’s board and that of the Meigs Cooperative Parish, which provides space in the Mulberry Community Center.
Among those issues is a signficant increase in the rent paid to the Meigs Cooperative Parish. Vance said efforts to negotiate rent rates, an offer to reduce the space used by God’s NET and other proposals, including a smaller cut of fundraiser proceeds, have been rejected.
On July 26, the executive board of God’s NET decided to close up shop. Over 5,500 children have visited God’s NET since it was first founded in 1995.
The God’s NET board will hold open receptions to mark the closing of the youth center, from noon to 5 p.m. on Aug. 7 and 5-9 p.m. on Aug. 8. It will be the last chance for youth to visit the center. Hotdogs will be served, memory books displayed, and a last look at the center will end it all.
The center first opened on West Main Street downtown, but moved to the Mulberry Community Center once it was completed. The Meigs Cooperative Parish provided financial support.
According to Vance, however, God’s NET began paying the cooperative parish $500 each month for rent and support and another $500 for debt retirement when the funds were available.
“I knew that would stretch an already tight budget,” Vance said, but the funds were pledged and paid to the parish.
“That did not work very well. When we paid the extra for debt retirement, we fell behind in future months.”
Late last year, wages for two part-time workers were late, and in June, the Cooperative Parish board proposed charging God’s NET a $1,500 monthly fee and collecting a cut of all fundraisers at the center, Vance said. It was then that the God’s NET board decided the center must be closed.
After a newspaper story reported the plans to close the center, God’s NET received a $13,000 anonymous donation, and Vance said that would have allowed a smaller-scale God’s NET operation but it was later determined the program must leave the Mulberry Community Center.
“A partnership in ministry could no longer continue to function effectively,” Vance said.
Vance said the board is now looking for a place to store some items and, “after catching our breaths,” possibly looking for a way that the ministry can be raised from the ashes.