Boys & Girls clubs extend fundraising challenge to Payette Police Chief

Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Treasure Valley Executive Director Dana Castellani and fundraising representative Marty Justice address the Payette City Council about continued fundraising efforts on Monday. Ontario Police Chief Steven Romero challenged Payette Police Chief John Plaza to compete against Ontario in their fundraising efforts.


With clubhouses having reopened on both sides of the Snake River, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Treasure Valley has refocused its efforts on fundraising to keep the clubs going.

Present at the Payette City Council meeting on Monday were the clubs’ Executive Director Dana Castellani, Board Member and Ontario Police Chief Steven Romero, and Ontario businessman Marty Justice, who is a fundraiser and past board member.

Castellani reiterated the need for the Clubs to raise 30% of their operating budget locally, which lies at the heart of the the Great Futures fundraising campaign which was launched in January. Castellani last spoke to the council regarding the fundraiser in March.

“Everything was going really well … and then the next day, this all just changed,” said Castellani of how quickly the Clubs’ situation changed as novel coronavirus COVID-19 hit. “Our club went into shutdown for 10 weeks in Payette; We did reopen June 1, lots of limitations, lots of restrictions, but that clubhouse is still open currently, so that’s a tremendous success.”

Castellani told the City Council the cost to run both clubs is around $1 million, with some need still unmet despite initial local business and government support.

“We’ve done a lot of grants, we’ve done emergency funding, we’ve done government funding and we have had some business step up and support us. But the need is still very much there.”

Castellani pointed out that with Payette School District switching to a four-day schedule this fall, the need to provide supervised activities on Fridays weighs heavily on the Payette club.

“We’re looking at having to replace a lot more time,” she stated.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Justice, who is also a city councilor for Ontario, spoke about the need for sustainable income for the Clubs.

“We all know that … none of us have three million dollars just to … give to the club, we understand that,” said Justice. “So we’ve come up with this five dollars from five thousand people campaign.” 

The campaign aims to sign up 5,000 people to donate $5 monthly to sustain the $300,000 needed to run the clubs, and allow corporate donors to sponsor extra programs as a result.

“I know I’m preaching to the choir,” said Justice, “but we need your help! We need you to support it, we need you to ask your community and support it. We have to sustain it. If we don’t, the club will close.” 

Romero testified that participation in the youth clubs helps reduce recidivism rates later in their lives.

“Too many of our youth have too much delinquent time activities to do when they’re bored and have nowhere to go,” said Romero. “From a police standpoint, as a chief of police, I believe that the Payette club, the Ontario club and any other club truly launches a great outreach platform for the youth of our community.”

During the meeting, Romero personally extended an invitation to Payette Police Chief John Plaza, challenging him to see how much money his department could raise. Romero said he already challenged Ontario Fire Department and local agencies to raise funds for the clubs, in friendly competition with the police.

“I guess I can make a formal challenge to the Payette Police Department, friendly challenge to see how they do up against Ontario Police in a friendly challenge of who can raise the most money for our kids.”

Romero said he would assure funds raised in their respective cities would go to their respective clubhouses, unless they wanted to set up a shared account to distribute funds as needed.

“I’d like to see both sides of the river prosper,” said Romero.

In an email on July 7, Plaza said that his department would step up to the challenge.

“I put it out to our officers to go to the Boys & Girls Club web site to sign up for or make a donation if they wish,” said Plaza.

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