Letter: In appreciation of the Elburn and Countryside Community Center

By on June 23, 2011

I want to thank Pat Leyden, Bill Brauer, Kathy Johnson, Dan Hannemann and Clara Stonecipher, the Board of Directors of the Elburn and Countryside Community Center, for their support over the 11-and-a-half years that I have served as the administrative assistant.

I have seen a lot of changes over the years and have seen the hard work and dedication that the volunteer board has given to the Elburn community. In leaving this position, my one hope is to make the Elburn and surrounding area aware of what the Community Center is and what it stands for.

Some of you know how the story goes, for those of you who don’t here it is: Built in 1928, this building was officially opened in 1929 as the Elburn High School. In later years it was used as an elementary school.

In 1985, the Kaneland School District closed down the school. This building was then sold to a private citizen of Elburn. He then turned around and organized a group of citizens to form a nonprofit community center. The mortgage was eventually taken over by the nonprofit corporation. This community center does not receive any tax dollars; it is not supported financially by any taxing body. It is strictly operating on donations and money received from the rental of office space, classes, meetings and activities.

Over the years, I have heard comments such as, “Wow, this is a really cool building;” “this reminds me of the school I went to as a kid;” “why don’t you have air conditioning;” “this building is so old;” “thank you for letting my kids play in the gym;” “why don’t you have a pool?;” “why do the classes cost so much?”; “the park district where I came from was much cheaper;” “this place works great for my business;” “I’ve never been in here before;” “I didn’t know you had all these activities going on.”

Whatever your feeling or experience with the center, the bottom line is that a lot of people have worked for a lot of years to give you, your children and your grandchildren a place to go to learn martial arts, piano, flute, dance, art, basketball, baseball, soccer, a preschool to attend, and a place for pre-teens to meet and have fun. It has also provided the community a place for adults, with men’s basketball, Jazzercise, Zumba and senior exercise classes. Other activities that have taken place here have been plays, concerts (American English), magic shows, fund raisers, dance recitals, music recitals, Christmas events, summer camps, and now Bingo. The board has strived to continue to provide a place for businesses and groups to offer services for the community, such as the Elburn Food Pantry. It seems to me that this old building is misunderstood and still has a lot to offer.

My goal is to get the community excited and more people involved in the center. It has been loyal to this community for many, many years. Over the years it has met many challenges, but with the help of many people, it has been able to overcome them.

I would like to challenge more of the community to get involved. The board is embarking on a new endeavor: the installation of a geothermal system. This is a great opportunity to not only help lower the costs to heat and cool the building, but it is (also) the ultimate in renewable energy. This project will be exciting and educational. Donations will be a great part of getting this done.

Because there is no park district, let’s use this “old” building to the best of its ability. It can and should be able to meet some of the needs of Elburn and the surrounding countryside. If you have never been in the building, I invite you to come and take a look.

Once again, I would like to thank the board for their support. I would like to personally thank Mike Stoffa, Fred Swift, Chuck Cermak, Ray Van Eycke and Mike Morong for being there when I needed emergency maintenance help. I will miss a lot of things about this building, most of all I will miss all the faces, young and old, that have passed through my office over the years.

Laurie Studdard
Administrative Assistant
Elburn and Countryside Community Center