With an Extra $15,000 Grant Secured, Carver Foundation Board Gets Down to Business
FlaglerLive | June 30, 2011
Jenny Crain-Brady began the meeting of the George Washington Carver Community Center Governance Board this afternoon with a quote from its namesake: “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong — because someday you will have been all of these.”
The board’s order of business on the occasion of its second monthly meeting, and its first actual business meeting, was a little more commonplace: what is the role of this board, what’s the difference between it and the Carver Foundation board, and what are its bylaws?
A quick recap: Carver Gym in Bunnell went through a transfiguration over the past year. The Flagler County Commission last summer came close to closing what amounts to South Bunnell’s only covered recreational facility, but reversed course when a public outcry demanded alternatives. Key government officials from the commission, the school board and the Bunnell City Commission organized, brought all those agencies and others together and developed a formula that will ensure the gym’s survival for coming years, and transform it into a community and youth center similar to the county youth center on the campus of Flagler Palm Coast High School. Carver’s $90,000 budget is a mixture of mostly government dollars (including $50,000 from the county and $10,000 each from the school board and from Bunnell), and fund-raising from the foundation and the county.
Today, for example, County Commissioner Barbara Revels, who led the committee that revived Carver’s fortunes, announced that the Public Safety Coordinating Council voted to award the center a $15,000 grant for the coming year. The grant has to be ratified by the county commission. That’s expected to be a mere formality. The grant is in addition to a $5,000 grant from the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, and close to $7,000 that the foundation itself raised, through cash donations and an auction Revels and the county organized. That auction was emblematic of the broad community involvement that turned Carver’s fortunes around. Bank of America is also interested in contributing a substantial grant.
County Administrator Craig Coffey, who attended today’s meeting at Revels’s request, clarified the board’s role—and limitations.
“This body is not an official entity per se,” Coffey said of the governance board. It cannot write grants, for example. The Carver Foundation is responsible for that. And it cannot—or should not—dictate to Cheryl Massaro, the director of the youth center and now the director of the Carver center as well, what to do. It can only give direction.
Governance board member Colleen Conklin, who is also a member of the school board, was confused. “Isn’t that what this is?”she said, thinking of the foundation board.
“No, this is the governing board,” Revels said.
That only begged the question: what’s the difference between the two, and why have both, in addition to the county’s administrative oversight and the county’s and school board’s roles as fiscal agents for the Carver Center?
“What’s the point of this board?” Conklin asked.
“To be an open forum for the citizens to say we love what you’re doing, we have what you’re doing, we need the following,” Revels said. “For the facility to be reported on and what it needs and how we make that happen or not.” One day, Revels said, the facility will be a lot bigger and be sought after “because we’re going to end up landing a $1 million grant and we’ll be doing an addition people will be battling to use it.” The role of the governance board will then become more critical, particularly in setting and keeping to the Carver Center’s direction. “The foundation? That’s just about raising money,” Revels said.
The governance board consists of the following:
- Jenny Crain-Brady, a Bunnell city commissioner and the governance board’s chairman.
- Marian Irvin, a community representative (she administers Flagler County’s teen court) and the boar’s vice-chairman.
- Barbara Revels, the county commissioner, representing the county.
- Chris Borgmann, a community representative.
- Mike Boyd, representing the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
- Colleen Conklin, representing the school board.
- Calvin Grant, a Flagler County Sheriff’s Office deputy, representing the sheriff.
- Vanessa Pearson, a junior at Flagler Palm Coast High School and student advisory board representative.
The Police Athletic League was going to have a seat on the board. But PAL decided not to get involved or run programs out of Carver Gym. Its seat was removed at the board’s May meeting. Board meetings will take place monthly for now, but likely change to quarterly meetings later this year. Meetings will take place on the fourth Thursday of every month at 3:30 p.m. at the community center next to Carver Gym in Bunnell. (July 28 is the next meeting.) The center itself will open as a full-fledged youth and community center by August.