Wanted: Community Center events

Empty schedule and higher costs create financial shortfall

The Dolores Community Center sits on the banks of the river and is a popular location for parties, fundraisers, weddings, meetings, and events.

We've all been there, whether it was a meeting, a wedding, a fundraiser, or to enjoy a film festival or concert. It is the Dolores Community Center, nestled along the Dolores River with a lush, shaded lawn and excellent views of the surrounding hillsides.

But a recent decline in its use, attributed to the struggling economy, has organizers ramping up promotional efforts. Part of that strategy is the unveiling of a new and comprehensive website for the center at dolorescommunitycenter.com.

The easy-to-navigate and attractive site offers viewers a convenient calendar of upcoming events, fee schedules, and facility details. It has a nice review of the center's history as well.

"We're trying to make it more user friendly and get the word out that it is a great venue for family events, company meetings, or parties," said Ed Merritt Jr., finance officer for the center. "It is a real gem and we're encouraging people to use it more."

A financial shortfall of $4,000 means putting off needed upgrades to the roof and the kitchen, he said. Rising utility costs and less funding is the cause of the budget crunch.

The Center is a not-for-profit organization and does not receive tax dollars. It relies on the generosity of users and donors.

Two fundraising events are planned, but dates have not yet been set.

"With rising costs, we have talked about raising rates; however, our decision has been to try and increase the usage," said board president Shawna Valdez, in an e-mail.

The Center was built in 1976 on land donated by the American Legion. It was extensively remodeled in 2009, doubling the space to 6,000 square feet.

Senior citizens are offered hot, nutritious meals on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Rental fees are listed on the website and are affordable. A meeting room can be rented for $20 for a half day. The whole facility is available for $200 for a day and $100 for a half day. Nonprofits get a discount, and there is a 50 percent reduction in fees if a users books the facility at least 10 times annually. See website for full fee details.

"Our budget is $18,000 for the year, and that'sdown. Costs for maintenance, utilities, insurance, taxes, snow removal keep rising, so we are trying raise awareness and asking people to please come and support us," Merritt said.