Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
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Money crunch endangers Perrysburg Heights center

Fund-raising kicks up in effort to keep doors open


Stephanie Serda helps sixth grader Nathan Ponce with a science project at the Perrysburg Heights Community Association.

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Executive Director Stephanie Serda of the Perrysburg Heights Community Association was in the middle of a conversation when Perrysburg Junior High School sixth grader Nathan Ponce asked for help with his science project.

“I have a little experience with the project, kids from years past have had it,” she said.

Every school day from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Ms. Serda and other association volunteers tutor kids and give them a chance to hang out.

But Ms. Serda said if they don’t kick up fund-raising, they have about two months left until they would have to shut the doors.

“We’re in the red zone, danger,” she said. “If we don’t do anything new we’ll run out of money.”

The center at 12282 Jefferson St., opened in 1991 to improve the quality of life in the Perrysburg Heights area through educational, social, recreational, and neighborhood improvement programs. Ms. Serda’s mother, Anita Sanchez-Serda, was one of the founders.

“At home I don’t have any supplies [for homework],” said Breonna Ovideo, a Fort Meigs Elementary fourth grader. “I come here and just have to bring a little bit of supplies from home and Stephanie helps me. I like the art room because I like doing all kinds of different projects.”

The association has an operating budget of $130,000. The community is reaching out starting Friday night with a cookout from 5:30 to 11 p.m. at the Perrysburg Heights Community Center. It will be $5 a plate, and there will be volleyball, softball, and other activities.

The association holds an event called South of the Border every August as a major fund-raiser. In the past it raised $25,000 to $30,000, but the last few years it has fallen short. Grants and fund-raising opportunities have helped keep the nonprofit organization running.

Ms. Serda said options for fund-raising include renting out the full-size gymnasium at $30 an hour for parties and recreational kid and adult leagues.

She also said organizers are looking at cutting back on the summer schedule, increasing fund-raising, and decreasing college visits for students from every Monday to once every two or three weeks.

Tiffany Evans has gone to the community center since she was 11. Eight years later she is a volunteer.

“I don’t know what a lot of these kids would do without this here. I was doing really bad in school, and without the tutors here I wouldn’t have made it as far as I did,” said Ms. Evans, who helps the kids with homework, cleans after them, and reads to the younger kids.

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