CRYSTAL LAKE – A nearly $50,000 donation by some of the area’s leading philanthropists will give a Crystal Lake teen center a little breathing room.
The Break, which opened at its 6292 Route 14 location in June 2014 and has seen its membership grow to more than 200 teens, has survived on the proceeds of founder and president Brenda Napholz’s Fast Finish Coaching business and its annual fundraisers, Napholz said.
“We were getting to the point where going month to month was becoming difficult,” she said. “[The donation] was unbelievable, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
The collective donation came from a group of area philanthropists, business leaders and friends led by Mike Luecht. They included Vince Foglia, Scott Brown, Dave Domek, Mike Domek, Charie Zanck, Chuck Ruth, Mike Curran and Tom Carey.
“Being involved in the community and seeing the different resources available for young people, the one thing that often gets overlooked is simply a sense of place for young people to go to,” Luecht said. “I believe every young person needs a place they can go to where they can have fun, not be judged and feel safe.”
Admirers of the nonprofit credit Napholz and other adult volunteers’ hands-off philosophy that allows the teen members to make The Break into whatever they want it to be with activities and programs they suggest and plan.
The group plans on backing The Break moving forward, not just financially but in any way it needs, Luecht said.
The focus right now is on growing the nonprofit’s board of directors to seven from five, Napholz said, something she hopes will ease the burden on individual board members and lead to a greater convergence of gifts and talents.
One of The Break’s annual fundraisers, an Oktoberfest celebration at Main Beach, is approaching in September, and Napholz hopes to raise enough funds from that and other private donations to make The Break a “sustainable part of the community.” The nonprofit also will become eligible for more grants once it hits its third anniversary.
A portion of the $48,500 donation – enough to cover a year’s worth of operations – will be set aside to serve as a buffer, Napholz said. The board also plans on hiring the volunteer-run center’s first part-time employee.
The board will be putting together a strategic plan for the future of the center and deciding what they want the position to look like before posting the job in September, Napholz said.
“We need to make it efficiently run so we’re not burning out our volunteers,” she said.