|Phillips Says Good-Bye|
Published: Friday, 06 July 2012 01:25
Alameda Boys & Girls Club Director George Phillips stands outside the facility he helped create on the West End. He retired last Friday.
George Phillips, longtime director of the Boys & Girls Club of Alameda and the public face of an ambitious campaign to build a 25,000-square-foot, $10 million West End facility for the families it serves, has announced he is stepping down after 14 years on the job.
"It just felt right. It just seems time to step aside," he said.
Phillips came to the club after a career as a retail executive, which included stints at Liberty House and Mervyn's department stores and another in which he ran his own San Francisco stores. Business suffered after the 1989 earthquake, though, and wanting to spend more time at home with his son, Phillips quit the retail game.
Volunteer work at St. Joseph Elementary School put Phillips on track to create a development office for the school. And it was in that capacity that the club's then-leaders discovered and approached him for the top slot.
"They wanted someone who would put them back on the map," Phillips said. "They just wanted a fresh perspective."
The club, which has been in Alameda since 1949, was then housed in a much smaller space on Lincoln Avenue, next to Henry Haight Elementary School. But the neighborhood the club sat in was gentrifying as well, Phillips said, becoming home to wealthier families that had less need of the club's services.
When faced with a $2 million bill to retrofit the club's Lincoln Avenue home, Phillips and the club's board embarked on efforts to build a new facility that they hoped would serve nearly three times the 1,300 youths who attended programs on Lincoln Avenue.
Their original plan, drafted when economic times were good, was to move into their new home at the corner of Third Street and Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway by October 2009.
But the 2008 stock market crash, which destroyed the portfolios of foundations and wealthy donors alike, slowed the club's fundraising to a crawl, ultimately delaying its opening by 19 months.
"The board didn't waver. At that point we decided, it needs to be done; we'll find a way," Phillips said. In 2009 Phillips asked the city council for $2 million in regional park bond funding so work on the facility could commence.
The club's new home opened in May 2011. Phillips' official last day was last Friday, though he said that he will help out at the club parttime for the near future.
Read more at www.thealamedan.org.