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Governor David Paterson's 2009-2010 budget includes millions of dollars in state aid cuts that could have detrimental effects on local community groups, such as the Hicksville Boys & Girls Club (HBGC), which rely heavily on state monies passed down to youth boards.

However, at the time this paper went to print, it appeared as if the club could receive a slight reprieve. While the HBGC will still receive state aid, the amount will be dramatically lower with funding for 2009-2010 set at 2008-2009 levels less 10 percent.

"It's disturbing to consider what will happen to the young people that take advantage of our club if we are no longer here. If not involved in structured, supervised after school activities, these youth run a much higher risk of getting involved in anti-social behaviors and eventually the criminal justice system," said HBGC Director Tom Bruno.

With costs rising and aid decreasing, the club, which has been providing services to youth ages 11-21 and their families since 1972, is still in need of help and, as a result, the Hicksville community is banning together. Several fundraisers are planned, including a brunch, hosted by New York State Assemblyman Rob Walker; a Night of Comedy & Laughter, sponsored by the Hicksville-Jericho Rotary Club; a garage sale; and a golf outing, among others.

Walker said he is proud to support the Hicksville Boys & Girls Club during this terribly difficult economic time and stands firmly behind his belief that the state should look to make cuts in "more appropriate" places.

"Even though the cuts [to the club] appear to be less than initially expected, the fact that we are cutting in areas that are so necessary is terrible," said Walker, who voted down every budget appropriation and language bill brought before the assembly this week. "This budget is disastrous for all Long Islands, but particularly hits hard those programs intended to help our young people. We should be looking at the places where cuts really should be made."

To Bruno, the success of the fundraisers is key for the agency to continue to provide the community and surrounding areas with much-needed youth and family services. "We are the only not-for-profit in this area that provides essential programs at no cost... We are all very aware that it is much more costly for our communities if our young people get involved in the juvenile justice system," Bruno said. "Prevention programs such as ours are not only more cost-effective but also provide our youth with character-building skills that they will be able to use their entire lives. The success of these fundraisers is essential for the positive development of our young people."

For more information on these events or to make a donation, call the Hicksville Boys & Girls Club at 822-KIDS, email HYCBGC@aol.com; or visit HYCBGC.com.

The following fundraisers have been planned to help the Hicksville Boys & Girls Club raise the funds necessary to remain open: Brunch: Hosted by New York State Assemblyman Rob Walker from 9-11 a.m. at B.K. Sweeney's, 356 Broadway, Bethpage. $30 per person. A Night of Comedy & Laughter: Presented by Hicksville-Jericho Rotary Club to benefit the HBGC's Scholarship Program at Governor's Comedy Club, 90 Division Avenue, Levittown, from 8-9:30 p.m. $16 per person and a 2-drink minimum. Garage Sale: At the Hicksville Boys and Girls Club, 79 West Old Country Road, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Golf Outing: The Hicksville Chamber of Commerce's Golf Outing will take place at the Town of Oyster Bay Golf Course U.S. Open: Volunteer to work the club's food concession tent during the following shifts - 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and noon to close.

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