CARLSBAD — Two weeks ago, the Boys & Girls Club of Carlsbad transitioned to a new leader.
Evan Perkins, who’s been with the club for eight years, was tapped as the new chief executive officer. He replaces Brad Holland.
Perkins was hired eight years ago as a youth development professional and has steadily worked his way up the nonprofit’s hierarchy. He was recently promoted from his position as operations director. Now, he faces a significant challenge with the club as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The club has struggled financially and also with attendance, as it is operating between 25% to 30% due to health protocols set by the state and county.
“Right now, it’s steering the ship out of this COVID crisis,” Perkins said. “I’m going to have more communication with our board directors and our executive committee as well as the community, community partners and donors.”
The pandemic has hit the non-profit industry hard and the club is no exception, he said. Both locations in Carlsbad (Bressi and Carlsbad Village) shut down from March 13 through May 18.
Also, the summer is the biggest draw for the club, Perkins said, with more than 600 members attending each day at both locations. During the summer, he added, the club was operating at about 20%.
The budget has also taken a hit, although the club netted nearly $450,000 during its annual October gala, Perkins said.
“It’s definitely a challenging time as you’re trying to be safe as you can inside the facilities,” he explained, “while also trying to continue to not hemorrhage money on a monthly basis. It is a challenge and will continue to be a challenge.”
Another part of the fiscal challenge has been the increase in doing business as the ratios of members to employees has inverted. Perkins said labor costs have skyrocketed, although the club is still committed to not turning kids away who cannot afford a membership.
He said the club tries to look at the situation through the lens of parents and using creative solutions to still provide the services many families rely on.
When at the club, though, the kids are required to wear masks, be socially distant, wash their hands and undergo wellness and temperature checks. Also, the club is thoroughly cleaned each night, Perkins said.
Even with the new protocols in place, he said the club is still focused on keeping a fun environment and giving kids the ability to develop social skills. Keeping the fun atmosphere, Perkins said, is arguably the most important part of the club.
“It sent shockwaves, not just for adults, but our kids,” Perkins said of the changes. “Understanding and communicating with them on what’s going on and being really clear. And trying to be consistent with how we operate is crucial to their success.”