Rec announces three-year, $500,000 fundraising campaign

By on November 25, 2014

Held off on previous effort during bad economy, now in need of funds

Since it’s the time of the year to give thanks, perhaps a shout out to the Ephrata Recreation Center is in order.

Jim Summers, ERC executive director since 2012, began working at the Rec in 1980.

Jim Summers, ERC executive director since 2012, began working at the Rec in 1980.

The Rec, as its been referred to since 1951, has been a hub for northern Lancaster County for not only fitness and sports — including youth sports teams — but for non-profits, community groups and others.

Jim Summers, ERC executive director since 2012, has witnessed a lot of changes since he began working there in 1980.

Ephrata Borough owns the ERC building and the land at South Academy Drive but has nothing to do with the management of the property.

“They don’t charge us rent but we do all of the upkeep on it,” Summers said. “So we need to take care of the roof repair and take care of the HVAC.”

ERC is launching a three-year, $500,000 capital fundraising campaign that will allow the Rec to continue to be “the keystone for the Ephrata community,” Summers said.

The Rec recently procured a $100,000 donation from a single donor. The donation is a good kick-start for the half-million dollar campaign, said Summers, who refused to disclose the donor’s name at this point.

A priority for the Rec is a $230,000 replacement of its HVAC system and $185,000 in roof repairs.

“Initial funds will go to repair the roof which is leaking a bit, the HVAC system and to help subsidize the youth programs,” Summers said. “We’ve run our youth programs at pretty much break-even with the idea that we wanted as many kids as possible to participate.”

While the ERC has benefited greatly through the support of local businesses especially the generous contributions and loyal support from Summers Trucking and Andy Gehman, owner of MGS Trailers — the Rec needs the help of the community as well, Summers said.

“Business has been tough since the 2008 great recession,” he said.

Part of the problem is that a planned campaign to raise $750,000 to help cover a $1 million major capital improvement in 2008 was never done.

The Rec incurred debt that it’s been paying down for that project which included a new pool filtration and deck drainage systems; and the transformation of the racquetball courts into the cardio room.

“The center did not launch a campaign during those tough economic times,” Summers said.

Some of the work planned for the upcoming project will actually save the ERC money in the long run, Summers said.

For instance, a $40,000 heating system conversion from oil to gas and the updated HVAC system, will be more efficient and save electricity.

The ERC currently has about $160,000 in debt service owed, which is one of its biggest monthly expenses along with energy costs that total between $15,000 and $19,000 per month, Summers said.

Last weekend’s Extraordinary Give campaign raised almost $12,000 for the Rec, however, that money is earmarked for the Grater Scholarship program, which provides free or reduced programs and memberships for “kids in the community that need a little extra help,” Summer said.

Summers said that program, named after Tom Grater, the well-known former executive director, started in the early 1990s.

“It was originally for free memberships for Ephrata-area kids,” Summer said. “We’ve since expanded that to include free programs to outside the Ephrata area including the Cocalico School District and the eastern end of the Warwick School District.”

Though the fund for the Grater Scholarship had been essentially depleted after about 10 years, the Rec continued to provide those free programs and memberships.

“There was no money left in the fund for a number of reasons,” Summers said. “One was a lack of direct soliciting for the fund and a drop in donations toward that fund. But we never changed. We didn’t say ‘there’s no Grater Scholarship fund anymore’ we continued to absorb those costs.”

The Rec Center has crafted this information sheet to help solicit donations:

The Ephrata Recreation

Center – A Path to the Future

For over 60 years, the Ephrata Recreation Center has served the greater Ephrata area, making it a healthier, safer and stronger community. Since opening the doors in 1951, the center has become a vital civic partner, not only offering classes, programs, and activities to thousands of patrons each year, but also serving as a hub of northern Lancaster County, providing public service and opportunities to groups, individuals and businesses. It is a safe place for our children to play, for our seniors to meet and for our residents to gather together as a community.

The Ephrata Recreation Center offers programs and facilities that are managed by a passionate and professional staff. Services offered that are fundamental to making Ephrata what it is today include:

  • A youth athletics program with over 500 players that includes fitness, football, cheering, basketball, wrestling, floor hockey, soccer, archery and girl’s softball. Many of these programs break even or operate at a deficit to ensure all who wish to participate have the opportunity.
  • An outstanding learn-to-swim program that has made generations of youth safe in the water.
  • The Ephrata Area Summer Municipal Program which has provided free or low cost programs to over 1,700 children each summer for 40 years.
  • Camp A.N.C.H.O.R., a summer camp for children with developmental disabilities.
  • An exceptional pre-school program, including classroom skills, movement activities and swimming lessons, for 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds to prepare them for school.
  • A safe, supervised facility for youth before and after school, on days off of school and during the summer for the convenience of working parents.
  • A Biggest Loser program that has resulted in over 1,100 registrants losing 22,000 pounds (11 tons).
  • A thriving Silver Sneaker program that serves 725 seniors.
  • Free or discounted use of facilities to local civic clubs and athletic organizations for meetings and fund raising opportunities.
  • An $11/year Golden Years membership that includes meetings, entertainment, discounted programs and special use of the pool.
  • The community 4th of July fireworks display.
  • Partnerships with local municipalities, civic and service organizations and the Ephrata School District.

The Center Today

The ERC is a 65,000 square foot multi-faceted facility conveniently located adjacent to the Ephrata Middle School campus.

The goal of the center is to foster community spirit, friendship and teamwork through a variety of affordable programs for individuals of all ages and abilities. It’s mission is “to improve the quality of life by providing wholesome, affordable recreation opportunities to the citizens of the Ephrata area”.

Today, the notable amenities of the Ephrata Recreation Center include:

— Indoor swimming pool and spa

— Cardio studio, fitness room and group cycling studio

— Group fitness classes and personal training

— Basketball courts/Multipurpose gym

— Locker room and showers, sauna and steam

— Aerobics Room

— Kitchen and Banquet facilities

— Meetings rooms – available for community groups and civic organizations

— Central game room with an open design for community socialization and gatherings¶

Photo by Patrick Burns

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