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Sunnyside's Promise wants to chart new course with city

Sunnyside's Promise board member Nate Bridges gave a presentation to the Sunnyside City Council last night to update the elected body on the current situation of the non-profit and how the board plans to proceed in the future.

Bridges said three years ago a consortium was put together with the hospital, school district and city that would help Sunnyside's Promise pay administrative costs.

He said the school district was audited and it was determined the schools couldn't provide money unless services were being provided in the schools. The hospital went through a budget crunch and had to stop providing their share halfway through 2011.

Bridges made it absolutely clear that the city has not pulled their funding to Sunnyside's Promise, but the organization has had to "limp along" and cut 50 percent of its staff, which is now down to one paid person.

"We're really strapped on what we can do," he said. "We've always struggled for administrative money."

He spoke of the work that Sunnyside's Promise does that they do not make public, such as tattoo removal. Gang members would retaliate against family members if they knew about it, he said, which is why it isn't made public.

Bridges also said Sunnyside's Promise has brought in almost $900,000 in grants and outside sources into Sunnyside. That money then went into kids and services in the community.

He said just the existence of Sunnyside's Promise brings money into the city and that despite the organization running on a third of the administrative money it needs, it has still been a success.

Bridges said the board's plan for Sunnyside's Promise is to revisit its contract with the city, setting the information before the finance committee and throwing out the current contract. A new contract, he said, could be written based on current circumstances.

Bridges asked if the group could present the new plan to city council at its next meeting.

"Let's work something out," said Deputy Mayor Don Vlieger.

Speaking after Bridges, Sunnyside's Promise Executive Director Mark Baysinger approached with a check for nearly $10,000 that was written to provide goals and paint for the new soccer fields.

"We do try very hard to be proactive," he said. "I just wanted to let you know, I have an actual check as an example."

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