Not a slam dunk

If Kids Unlimited's wing-and-a-prayer venture into White City succeeds, it will depend on the community: residents, businesses and, perhaps most importantly, parents.

The successful Medford-based youth services organization announced last week it would step in when the White City Boys & Girls Club closed its doors. That's commendable and good news for White City, but it's not a sure thing.

The Boys & Girls Club closed because it had lost more than half a million dollars over the past five years and couldn't make up the shortfall.

The problem is, Kids Unlimited isn't exactly rolling in money either. Director Tom Cole acknowledged the White City venture is shaky.

"None of it makes sense on paper," he said, "but it never pencils out on paper for kids in poverty."

The recession that hit local businesses and families hard has taken its toll on social service agencies such as Kids Unlimited, too. Donations shrink in bad times, just as the need for the services increases.

Cole has done remarkable things with Kids Unlimited, which is now in its 15th year. The organization provides sports, art and music programs, and emphasizes academic success in school. Youths who participate in its programs must maintain academic standards, and the organization requires their parents to participate, too.

It will take parental support and a lot more to make the White City venture work.

The White City community has shown it has the will to make improvements. An urban renewal district, a sheriff's substation and a community center are evidence of that. In November, residents will vote on becoming a city rather than an unincorporated community with a city's name.

It will take more than will to make Kids Unlimited a permanent part of the neighborhood. It will take money. Families and especially businesses in White City should be prepared to step up and help out.

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