Chiles challenges Center to burn the mortgage

The Anna Maria Island Community Center has reconvened its capital campaign committee — consisting of Ed Chiles and Trudy and Stewart Moon — and tasked it with paying off the center’s mortgage in five years.

Center executive director Pierrette Kelly said the mortgage would cost $1.3 million to pay off now.

“Paying off the mortgage is our No. 1 commitment,” she said. “It’s an anchor around the Center’s neck. Once we’re done we can move forward easily.”

Out of the gate, Chiles challenged Center board members to raise $100,000 through personal gifts and identifying potential donors to commit to a five-year campaign. In return, Chiles committed to personally donate $50,000, as well as assist board members in asking major donors to contribute.

Kelly said a capital campaign wasn’t launched when the new building opened in 2007 because the economy took a downturn. The Center is nearing the end of its loan and the committee is focused on “burning the mortgage.”

“We want the mortgage paid off and the Center financially able to meet the needs of those we serve today,” said Kelly. “And, we want the ability to secure our future through planned giving and endowment investments to meet the needs of generations to come.”

Kelly told board members at a recent meeting about Chiles’ commitment and asked them to consider making a commitment as well.

Outgoing treasurer Bill Ford didn’t hesitate to accept the challenge and pledged $5,000 over a five-year period to the capital campaign. Board secretary Monica Simpson followed with a matching pledge.

“We, as a board, need to show our commitment to this campaign,” said Ford. “And I’m confident we can get [the mortgage] paid off.”

Upcoming fundraising events

The Center board is gearing up for several fundraising events in the spring, including the annual Tour of Homes and the annual An Affaire to Remember.

First up is the 18th annual Tour of Homes. Board members have been charged with selling tickets for a chance to win the Eyeland Needlers’ “Feeling Beachy” themed quilt.

Quilter Joan Pettigrew told board members, “Last year we ran out of tickets and had to print 500 more to sell the day of the event.”

The tour is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 19, and includes select Island properties in Anna Maria and Holmes Beach.

Tour tickets went on sale March 1 and cost $20. Chance tickets cost $1 each or $5 for six.

The Waterfront Restaurant, 111 S. Bay Blvd., Anna Maria, is offering a wine and cheese tasting in conjunction with the tour for a $10 donation.

The next fundraiser planned for the Center is a wine tasting on March 23 at Harry’s Continental Kitchens.

Tickets also are $10 and include appetizers. The tasting will be from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at 525 St. Judes Drive, Longboat Key.

The wine tasting at Harry’s is a pre-Affaire to Remember event said Kelly.

An Affaire to Remember is one of the Center’s largest fundraisers.

“Our event has raised more than $4 million in the past 16 years,” said event chair Trudy Moon. “We’re known for having the best trips and unique auction items. There is no better outlet for people who want to have a good time and give to charity.”

Last year, the event drew 354 people. This year the committee is hoping to make space for more attendees by moving the silent auction into an outdoor tent.

The tent will be nestled up to the auditorium exit, said Center assistant executive director Scott Dell, so that it extends the space of the room.

Board members learned that Lee Greenwood will return to entertain and has agreed to hold a pre-event concert and “Very Important Patrons” party in the auction tent.

Harry’s Continental Kitchens will host a sushi bar during the pre-event, and VIP attendees will get a preview of the silent auction.

Moon said the VIP event with Greenwood has been a good draw for ticket sales so far.

Moon told the board the outlook for this year’s event is positive. “The economy is ready and we’re ready. People [who haven’t donated or participated in the past few years] are starting to come back.”

Tickets for the gala start at $175 per person. The event will be held at the Center Saturday, April 2.

For more information about any of the Center’s upcoming events, call the Center at 941-778-1908.

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