Payson Community Kids is reinventing itself after the unexpected death of its founder, by raising money to build a new building and resuming once-abandoned community service projects.
The program will continue on a limited basis due to staffing and space limitations, but PCK Board President Suzy Tubbs said fund-raisers are planned to build a larger facility. The organization is also searching for volunteers and one potentially paid staffer to work three days each week.
Marcy Rogers’ death in December temporarily cast doubt on the organization’s future, but Tubbs said the board is committed to continuing the program, which feeds and clothes low income children and provides a place for at-risk youth to spend time.
The 73 kids who attended the Christmas party were adamant that the program continue, said Tubbs.
A fund-raising garage sale on Feb. 19 and 20 at Rim Country Self Storage will help raise money to continue. A golf fund-raiser is planned, as well as a Chili’s fund-raiser.
“I think we’ve got enough support, and the kids are wanting this enough,” Tubbs said. “It’s going to work — it may be a challenge at times. I’m being so positive, it’s disgusting, but somebody has to be. Right?”
Rogers began the organization in 1996 when kids started flocking to her while she painted in the park. By 2006, Payson Community Kids was a fully fledged non-profit that people informally called “Marcy’s Kids.” Early on, the kids completed community service projects, and Tubbs said the board wants to resume that tradition.
“It’s not just about them going to the place for free clothes and free food,” Tubbs said. “It’s about giving back.” Events included a monthly street clean up and helping people around the house, raking leaves for instance, who couldn’t for whatever reason.
Rogers held the program mostly at her house, and the current center at 409 S. Tonto St. can legally hold just six kids inside. Marcy left her house to her daughter, so the program is currently limited to the center.
Tubbs said six children stay inside, and the others play outside. In inclement weather, the kids can go to the bowling alley or to the library. “Right now, we’re going to have to wing it, basically, to make it survive,” said Tubbs.
The building planned would fit 50 children. The goal is for the new building to be finished by the end of this school year. Tubbs has already contacted engineers and architects, and wants to move as quickly as possible. “Of course, I’m looking for the cheapest rate, which is volunteer if possible,” she said.
More volunteers would also mean the program could operate more frequently. For now, it’s limited to one day each week, to children 6 years old and up until it becomes more stable.
“It’s a good environment to stay away from drugs. Better for them to be there than hanging outside of the bowling alley,” Tubbs said.