Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer
Wednesday, 05 June 2013 09:45
PERRYSBURG - After more than two decades in existence, the Perrysburg Heights Community Association is fighting to keep its community center open.
|File photo. Perrysburg Heights Community Center (Photo: Shane Hughes/Sentinel-Tribune)
At a recent meeting of the PHCA board, members voted 4-2, with two members abstaining, to eliminate paid staff and close the center indefinitely. However, an emergency meeting was called May 28 for a reversal of the motion.
"We decided 'let's go ahead and stay open, try and raise funds,'" said PHCA head Stephanie Serda. "That's where we are now."
The organization is now working to bring in enough funds to run the center, located at 12282 Jefferson St., she said.
"Really, we have some money to get through a few months, and obviously what we're trying to do is come up with some new ways to make dollars."
In that spirit, a "Save Our Center" cookout event is being held Friday from 5:30 to 11 p.m. at the community park on Jefferson Street, near the center, to raise money. A weekly flea market is also being planned.
The PHCA, a nonprofit organization, was established in 1991 and offers a number of educational, social, recreational and health programs for Heights residents, as well as a slate of afterschool programming for children. A satellite clinic of the Wood County Health Department relocated to the center in March.
The group also sponsors the annual Ohio's South of the Border Festival, scheduled for Aug. 10 this year, as a fundraiser.
Despite actively fundraising and pursuing grants - including a $40,000 grant awarded in 2011 - the PHCA has struggled financially in recent years. A 2010 annual report submitted to the IRS, the most recent such document readily available, showed that the organization ran a $945 operational deficit that year.
"I think a lot of non-profits go through some hard times, and this is definitely a time where we're trying to tighten our belts and figure out how we're going to get through the next little bit of time here," said Serda.
She said that some recent fundraising efforts "did not go as planned, a golf outing and some smaller fundraisers."
The cost of running the center averages between $110,000 and $130,000 annually. Nearly a fifth of the budget usually comes from the South of the Border Festival, which has experienced fluctuating revenues in recent years. A message on the festival's Facebook page indicated that admission prices are to be reduced this year, and Serda held out hope that the event will be successful.
A number of the tickets for the festival were stolen earlier this year, and had to be redesigned and reprinted to prevent fraud.
Perrysburg Township Administrator Walt Celley said that the PHCA has not approached the township with any funding requests. He said that the group may be attending the next township department head meeting on June 12.
The organization has received messages expressing support, and offering potential assistance, from local non-profits ISOH-IMPACT and the Cocoon Shelter.
"Obviously, with awareness, people are going to be hopefully able to offer some kind of help," said Serda.
"We are definitely in this mode of 'let's do what we can right now.' We'd hate to see the community center close. The association has been around for 23 years now, just doing good work in the community."