Seniors getting creative to fix Community Center roof

Scott Swanson

In the sewing room off the foyer in the Sweet Home Senior Center Friday morning, half a dozen women are busily inspecting and sorting fabric and other notions.

They’re preparing for a fund-raiser planned for a date yet to be set, at the end of April.

Their purpose is to raise money to fix the roof of the Community Center, in which the Senior Center is located, along with the Sweet Home Boys & Girls Club.

The fabric sale is one of two efforts under way to raise some $16,000 for roof repairs.

The other is a “Quarter Mile Race for the Roof” dreamed up by retired schoolteacher Pat Tungett, for which seniors are collecting and donating quarters.

“We’d talked about fund-raisers,” Tungett said.

Ken Bronson, Senior Center director and manager of the Community Center said that some flat portions of the roof o the building, completed in 2000, were not well designed and are leaking, particularly around vents. Puddles of water on the floor and in a trash can in the utility room of the center bear him out.

He said work on the roof would not start until summer.

“The seniors are contributing from their own funds,” Bronson said, noting that although the building is also used by the Boys & Girls Club, it is further available for many public events.

“There’s lots of things we don’t charge for – public service, city functions. We could ask the city for funds to repair the roof, but I’d rather not if we can prevent it. I’d rather raise it from the outside. It’s a community center. It’s used by many people. It’s 18 years old.”

Senior Center members have stepped up, he said.

The fabric fund-raiser came about after the family of a local resident who had died brought in material to donate – “years of accumulation,” according to Murya Scherer of the Jolly Stitchers quilting group at the center, which meets Tuesdays and Thursdays and is heading up the sale.

She said items that will be sold include all manner of fabric, yarn, and various knitting, crocheting and embroidery implements.

“Our job is to sort the fabrics and get them priced,” said Scherer, who spent three whole days with colleagues from the group last week working on the windfall, which arrived in two van loads.

Senior Center staff member Sandi Hegge said such donations are common, but they are usually “a box or two.

“They just kept bringing it in, bringing it in. Instead of stuffing it in the closet, we’re going to have a sale.”

Quilters are sorting the contents about 10 boxes – many of them large – of material in addition to “at least a dozen” large bolts of cloth, “tons of yarn” in six large boxes, and more, such as raw wool.

“It will be reasonably priced,” Scherer said. “It won’t be garage sale pricing, but it will be fund-raiser pricing – cheaper than Wal-Mart.”

She said quilt group members also plan to create some “fast quarters” – starter sections that quilters can use to get a project going.

Meanwhile, Tungett is working the rooms at the Senior Center with her demonstration yardstick for the quarter race.

She said her exercise group is already aiming to collect enough quarters to extend the length of the gym at the Boys & Girls Club, where it meets Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.

The object of the competition is to collect enough quarters that, when laid out in a line, they will measure one mile. It takes 37½ quarters to equal one yard, said Tungett, who said her daughter works at Sand Ridge Charter School in Lebanon and saw the fund-raiser work there.

“It’s a different way to raise money,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to try it.”

Hegge said the Senior Center plans to challenge other groups to get involved – businesses, sports teams, schools, the police department, firefighters, clubs, etc.

“Our goal is $10,000,” she said. “Who can raise enough quarters (or the cash equivalent) to equal a 50 yard dash? A 100 yard dash? Or a lap in the pool? What about the distance from home plate to first base… or all the way around, for a home run? How about the length of a firetruck or police car? What will be your challenge?”

Tungett said she feels a particular connection to the Senior Center because it’s named after the man who hired her in 1969 to teach at Foster School, Jim Riggs.

“I taught first grade at Foster for 27 years, and sixth grade for one,” she said. “I was the first person hired by Jim Riggs. I remember it was the first day of fishing season and Jim was a dedicated fisherman. People couldn’t believe he’d hired me that day.”