Cash crunch puts Community Center plans on hold

By on December 24, 2008

by Martha Quetsch
            Businesses and individuals are not the only ones feeling the effects of a struggling economy—nonprofit organizations are as well.

            For example, the Elburn and Countryside Community Center—a nonprofit organization located at 525 N. Main St.—has plenty of plans in place for improvements and additional offerings, but given the financial situation, board members are focusing their efforts on simply being able to operate the building.

            “We’re not trying to make money. We’re just trying to stay open and offer more recreational opportunities for residents,” board member Jack Hansen said.

            “Staying open” requires renovations to the building constructed in 1927. The board has spent time in 2008 trying to find a way to replace the windows and install a different heating system to replace the boiler that has been used since the building opened.

            However, the Community Center is not planning those projects for the coming year because it cannot afford them. Meanwhile, because of the old windows and boiler, the building’s heating bill lately is “horrendous,” Hansen said. One project they were able to complete was to replace the roof, although the board was forced to pay for it by taking out a loan.

            In addition to building improvements, Hansen’s wish list includes equipping the center to be a place local youth bands could practice their music, and teenagers could gather for games and socializing. But that would require funding the center does not have, Hansen said.

            The Community Center relies on fundraisers, donations and rent from business tenants to operate. Its financial situation could worsen if it does not find new tenants for two office spaces. A first-floor space that was rented by a chiropractic business has been vacant for several months, and a second-floor business plans to move out of its renovated space on the second floor sometime in 2009, Community Center manager Laurie Studdard said.

            The Community Center most recently raised money through a silent auction during the Elburn Christmas Stroll, which it intends to hold again next year.

            Studdard will look for interesting items at reasonable prices throughout the coming year to sell for a higher price at the next the auction.

            “We keep trying to find new ways to bring in extra cash,” Hansen said.

            The Community Center Board currently is contemplating seeking monetary donations from corporations with local sites, such as Walgreens, which is expected to open this spring at Main Street and Route 38.

            The Community Center has hosted the Blackberry School of Ballet for many years. But the school began struggling financially, so last June, State Street Dance of Geneva began managing it at the request of the Community Center Board. The measure was intended to give Blackberry School of Dance a financial boost.

            Hansen hopes that goal is not thwarted by the economic decline.

            “Some people may rather buy food than send their children to ballet,” Hansen said.

            For more information, call Laurie Studdard at (630) 365-6655.