Other voices: Community Center reaches out for support
You know us as the Gold Country Community Center at Gate 2 of the Nevada County Fairgrounds. We started life there 25 years ago as the Senior Center. Using matching funds from the Fairgrounds, the building began. When it was complete, the Center signed off its interest in the building in exchange for 25 years of rent-free usage with the provisos that we could use the building five days a week, no evenings or weekends, and that we must vacate for three weeks in August and at Thanksgiving.
A symbiotic relationship resulted from this agreement in which the Center took care of the inside of the building – including maintenance, janitorial and insurance – and the Fairgrounds took care of the outside. During the day, the Center has offered many programs that benefit our community. It is the home of the High Noon Senior Nutrition Program, which includes our Meals on Wheels program, with meals also served at the Center; the Senior Wood Program; the Computer Learning Center; HICAP medical insurance counseling and affordable classes.
The Fairgrounds leases the building and kitchen to many individuals and organizations for use in the evenings and on the weekends. I am sure that most of you reading this have been there at one time or another and know the Center better than I do. And you probably know of the many programs that have been launched from there: The Lutz Center Adult Day Services, Telecare Transportation and HelpLine Information and Assistance.
I am writing because starting July 1, we must begin paying rent. It will be $3,000 a month and will be subject to the same constraints we have now. And like any other tenant, we must show that we have the income to qualify. Well, at the present moment, we don’t. In any given year, we come up a bit short without the added expense of rent. As one of more than 300 nonprofits in this county, we have to compete for money along with everyone else. And as a nonprofit providing services, we have nothing to sell. We have a grant from the Area 4 Agency on Aging that provides for half the funding needed to serve 101 meals a day (although we actually serve more than 200). We do fundraising for the rest of our operating expenses.
It has been suggested that we get a grant. Unfortunately, grants are for specific projects, not operating funds. It has been suggested that we reach out to the business community, which has been generous to us with our fundraising. But those businesses also support other nonprofits, and I, for one, do not want to strain our relationship with such great supporters. Besides, fundraising capital is not a good basis for showing predictable income to landlords.
I believe our only true option is to reach out to our governmental agencies. Some people discourage me in this. However, I must point out that community centers and senior centers are usually funded through a county or city parks and recreation department. Currently, we do not enjoy that type of sustained support in Nevada County.
By writing this, I wish to show we are continuing our efforts to reach out to the community for support – both monetary and emotional – to ensure we have money for rent. Our meeting with an assistant in Sen. Aanestad’s office over our issue of funds is still up in the air. I think it is a positive sign that they are spending so much time on a response. A new presentation will be ready soon, and we are going to present our need for operating funds to both Nevada City and Grass Valley city councils and to the county Board of Supervisors. We will let you know the dates so you may support us with your presence and your passion for our mission.
If there are any angels out there, you are welcome to donate. Thank you for your loyalty as we move forward.
Linda Pritchard is the president of the Gold Country Community Council, Inc. in Grass Valley.
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