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Date of Issue: February 04, 2009

Tough times for donor-dependent Center

The economic downturn has hit the Anna Maria Island Community Center, said AMICC executive director Pierrette Kelly, but the Center is maintaining all its major programs and has gone into higher gear to raise funds.

“We’re not critical, but the economy has affected all non-profit organizations, not just us. We’re really operating on a tight budget,” she said. In fact, the Center’s current budget is the same amount as it was in 2004-05.

As a local non-profit community center, the Center can’t count on the luxury of regular revenues such as a tax base, Kelly observed.

“We’re a small non-profit,” she said. “We are looking at additional fundraising measures and we’ve always been looking at fundraising since I’ve been here. It’s just a bit more urgent now.”

The Center still maintains all its most important programs, such as after-school care, sports leagues and youth and senior activities, but, given the current economy, it now has to look at what services and programs are not quite that necessary.

One person who will help serve the Center at no cost is a Volunteer in Service to America volunteer who starts this month. Benefits and salary for the VISTA volunteer are paid by the federal government.

The VISTA volunteer will be out in the community looking to assist senior citizens with any unmet needs, such as an electric bill or house repair, Kelly said.

On the bright side, Kelly said all the pledges for the construction of the new $4.6 million facility that opened in 2007 are being met and some are still coming.

“We are so grateful people are bringing in their pledges. We’re in good shape with our mortgage,” she said.

The Center was able to obtain a U.S. government EDGE loan that provided a low-interest mortgage for construction of the new facility.

“We’re making our payments,” said Kelly.

But the financial crunch has created a hiring freeze on new, full-time staff, she said.

When developmental director Aida Matic recently left the Center to take a job in Sarasota, the position went unfilled.

“We still hire part-time staff when we have an opening and we are always looking for volunteers to help. Volunteers fill such a critical role for us,” Kelly said.

The Center will get a boost on April 4, when it hosts its 25th annual Affair to Remember dinner-auction.

It’s the Center’s major fundraiser of the year and a much-anticipated event on the Anna Maria Island social calendar.

But the Center is not resting on just that event.

Kelly said a Kiwanis Club dance is planned for Feb. 12 and pop singer Billy Rice will entertain on Feb. 21.

“In these economic times, we can’t rest,” concluded Kelly.

For more information on the Center activities or to volunteer, call 941-778-1908.