Facing Dire Predicament, Nashville Community Center Appeals To Citizens For Ideas, Aid
By Alex Haglund
There has been a lot of talk around town in the past few months that the Nashville Community Center (CCN) is in a tight spot financially. Many don’t know how tight though. Currently, CCN has a little more than $3,000 per month going out than is coming in.
“Within a few months,” said CCN Board Member Randy Reuter, “If something doesn’t come up that we can at least see some type of plan….then we’re going to have to look at making a different kind of plan.”
Reuter met with other members of the CCN Board on the afternoon of Thursday, October 19, including Kurt Elsesser, Tom Pelczynski, Rhett Renken, Jennifer Szopinski and Amber Winchester to discuss some ideas about how to keep CCN open, and to plead with the community for help – either financially, or in terms of ideas for preserving the Community Center.
The Community Center is a non-profit organization. “We’re not funded by any taxes,” Szopinski stated – it persists on money from renters, donations, and from fundraisers.
CCN is located at 455 S. Washington Street and was once Nashville’s grade school. In 2004, members of the community got together with the intent of turning that school in the Community Center.
After a year of fundraising, which helped to net $116,000, CCN opened its doors in March of 2005.
The number of events that CCN plays host to, both regularly and one-offs, is staggering. For many of them, no revenue is generated for CCN, but those events particularly may be some of the more important ones hosted there. Since its inception, some of the activities and events that are held or were held at CCN include:
Seminars, dances, monthly dinners and shows, Christmas bazaars, health fairs, blood drives, home and garden shows, youth summer programs, benefit dinners, battle of the bands, yoga, weight watchers, bridal fair and prom expo, the Halloween Parade and Carnival, the Tri-M Music Haunted House (The parade and carnival and the haunted house will both being hosted there again this year and are coming up this weekend!), food safety courses, 4-H groups, girl scouts, brownies, the gym is open to walkers, wine tastings, chicken and dumpling dinners, the alumni dance and homecoming, wing day, volleyball leagues, adults and kids basketball, soccer, a junior golf outing and much more.
CCN is also important as a central location for Nashville civically – it is a polling place for multiple voting districts and it acts as an emergency evacuation location for both Washington County Hospital and for Friendship Manor nursing home.
Since opening as CCN, a number of improvements have been made too – a new roof over the gym, along with a new ceiling and netting inside that area, new concrete walkways, resurfacing of the parking lot, energy efficient lighting, and new heating and air conditioning in most of the building.
That has also made it so that some of the expenses that CCN is faced with include repayment of loans, and that has the board uneasy about seeing CCN continue to limp along if those are not able to be paid back as they should be. There are other repairs or improvements that will be needed in the future too, most urgently a new third floor roof and new air conditioning for the oldest part of the building.
Over the years, CCN has also hosted a number of renters, either businesses or non-profits. Unfortunately, in recent years, four of the renters have left the building, two are left, and one of those will be leaving soon too.
“The success that we had was when we had renters,” said Renken. There are many spaces and offices that are available still at CCN, and included in the price is gas, water and electricity.
While the CCN Board members stated that more renters would help to keep the doors open, with a number of other vacant locations in and around Nashville, they don’t believe that they can count on acquiring more renters as a viable way out of their current situation.
Other money can come into the building through individuals who will rent a room or rooms for a one-time event or meeting, but again, this is not something that can be routinely counted on, at least, not to the degree that the CCN needs.
As a community organization and non-profit, “we would love to not have to bill anyone,” Elsesser stated. Unfortunately, that is not possible.
Instead, CCN is reaching out to the community, not only for their money, which they have been so generous with already, but for ideas.
“We need more community involvement,” Pelczynski said, “if someone has a way to raise money, they should come on in and we can do it.”
“Ideas are welcome,” said Winchester.
“We need the Community’s help,” Rueter added. “Maybe now more than ever.”
Currently though, the board members stated that they would need to do two large scale fundraisers a month to help bring in the kind of money they need.
Even if that were possible though, “you never know if there is going to be an air conditioner going out,” Renken said.
Ideas that were mentioned by the board members included CCN memberships, which in addition to bringing in fees, would also help to keep people involved by making them personal stakeholders in CCN. Another idea was to help seek out members of the community that can or do seek and write for grants that could help organizations like CCN.
CCN has come to the City of Nashville with their concerns as well. While the city can’t pay all of CCN’s bill, at their regular council meeting on the evening of Thursday, October 19, the council approved covering CCN’s utility costs up to $1,200 per month, for a period of one year (the measure will be reviewed after that time, to assess how CCN is doing.
Nashville Mayor Erik Rolf also made a plea for residents of Nashville to help, recognize and support CCN in whatever way they could , reiterating that they are a non-profit that does not receive tax funds.
The thing that will help CCN most right now though, the board members present on Thursday agreed, is more community involvement.
“We’re in dire straits right now, Reuter said. “I think that the community wants this, but I don’t think that they realize the situation we’re in.”
If anyone in Nashville or the surrounding area has any ideas at all that can help the community center, don’t hesitate to contact them. Emails with ideas can be sent to CCN at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Community Center is also on Facebook, and can be reached by phone at (618) 327-8663.