GLOVERSVILLE -One year ago, June 2011 marked 10 years since the Senior Citizens Service Center of Gloversville & Fulton County opened its doors at the Church Street building.
Instead of celebrating, leadership and members of the organization were scrambling to find a way to avoid what appeared to be imminent closure at the end of the month.
Facing the loss of state funding and county-operated programming, as well as a decline in personal donations, the center struggled to balance its $100,000 annual budget with about $88,000 left on the center's mortgage with NBT Bank.
Guitar instructor Sav Cammarere, left, gives guitar lessons to Edna Bixby of Broadalbin and Richard Laird of Gloversville at the Senior Citizens Service Center of Gloversville & Fulton County on Friday.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
In July, the YWCA of the Adirondacks Foothills donated $41,000 to the center from a restricted-money fund started in 1922 with a $1,000 donation to the YWCA by James Rice.
That was enough to keep the center's doors open to the end of the year. Then, when the YWCA building on Bleecker was sold to Michael and Hannah McAllister, the center received about a $25,000 donation, said the center's Executive Director Catherine Mueller.
"We started off the year with a bit of a balance from the $41,000, and then the $25,000 buoyed us up to get caught up and gain some strength literally to carry on," Mueller said.
On Thursday, exactly one year from the date officials announced the center would close, leaders from the different center groups met in their advisory committee making plans for events six months down the road.
The mood now is upbeat and hopeful, and thanks to the community response since the June 2011 reality check, threat of closure - for now - has been lifted.
"I think it's come a long way only because the people stuck together," said Mary Lou Adams, 63, who leads the Wii Bowling club.
Many of the clubs have stepped up their own fundraising to contribute to the center.
"For once the community came together and fought for something worth fighting for," she said.
The Wii Bowling Group, which divides its seasons into 12-week stretches, decided to collect $1 per week from the 20 members of the group, which raised $240 by September 2011.
The group previously hadn't charged for activities.
Part of the funds paid for the group's first Wii Bowling luncheon and awards banquet, where seniors who scored the lowest and highest in the season were awarded certificates and other prizes.
Any remaining funds are donated back to the center, Adams said.
The center now has 50 members who pay an annual $10 membership fee. Mueller estimated about 200 to 250 seniors pass through the doors on a given month. Membership is not required to partake in the services and activities at the center.
"If it closed I'd probably just stay home. This is the only club I like. I came here because my mother was a member," said Adams, a Fonda resident who was raised in Gloversville.
In addition, Mueller said, many of the seven groups who meet at the center provide monthly funds.
"We're just glad it's still open. We don't know what we would do without it," said June Hagadone.
Hagadone, 68, and her friend, Philomena Carbona, 92, walk over from Forest Hill Towers.
"This building is very good for people who live around here and have trouble getting around," Hagadone said.
Mueller on Thursday detailed a number of exterior restoration projects, for which the center won't pay a penny thanks to the generous donation of time by local contractors.
The tattered awnings will be replaced, and the building will get a fresh coat of paint.
"The tarp is really wearing. It's 11 years old, and there's some touch up work hat need to be done," she said.
The center's advisory group took a collection to pay for flowers for the window sill boxes. The community flower garden at the corner of Frontage Road and Church Street has been blooming since spring.
The center is even offering new programming like art classes, which will hopefully culminate in an art show, Mueller said.
"We're making plans right up until December," she said. "It's so much more hopeful considering a year ago when the board met and voted to close. Since then we've gotten great community support. We still aren't getting any state, county or city funds."
The center has also been able to rehire for the program coordinator position and maintenance position - both work about 20 to 30 hours a week.
An anonymous donation is sponsoring funding for the administrative assistant position.
Current hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Mueller said monthly utility bills have been cut from $6,000 to $4,400 to $4,600.
"That's made a big difference with the utilities. We've been very conservative, turning down the heat to the bare minimum over night in the winter and we haven't needed air conditioning. It makes a difference," Mueller said.
Mueller said about half a dozen private members of the community donate continuously to the center, but to maintain its operations, it's always in need of perpetual support.
"To have really hit the wall and been up against the wall, and to now see a point where we're doing things for beatification projects, that's coming full circle. We're literally seeing things in bloom again," Mueller said.