Heiter Center Needs Cash to Raise a Roof

Originally published on The Daily Item

A contractor came to the Donald L. Heiter Community Center to inspect its roof after it sprung a leak.

It was stamped for installation in 1972 and rated for 10 years.

“1982 is really when it should have been dealt with,” Andrea Tufo, executive director, said of the flat, neoprene roof. “It’s time to build a pitched roof on top.”

It’s time to raise some funds, too.

A goal of $75,000 is set for the Heiter Center — the cost of a new roof plus repairs to water damage on the wooden floor in the gymnasium along with contingency cash for the project overall. It hopes to meet the mark by early February.

The Heiter Center, 100 N. Fifth St., holds an annual fund drive to support its programming but a capital campaign is out of the norm. August will mark 25 years for the nonprofit youth center.

“That’s a lot of money for us,” Tufo said.

Donations can be made online at www.gofundme.com/heiter-kids-need-a-roof or under the Support the Center section of www.donaldheiter.org. Donations can also be made by mail or in person at 100 N. Fifth St.

The Heiter Center operates on an average annual budget of $250,000. It has just two full-time employees and is staffed largely by seasonal workers and volunteers. They serve 300 children enrolled in educational and recreational programs including before-school and after-school care. All told, Tufo said 6,600 children and adults were served by its services in 2016, including through the CommunityZone, which now falls under its umbrella.

Among the volunteers were students from Bucknell University’s Management 101 course. The college students sought in-kind donations and raised additional cash to buy mold-resistant paint and paint supplies. They redid the gym after the leak was patched and plan to paint an adjacent room.

“All of our money went to paint. We did have a bit extra to go toward the floor,” said Haley Mullen, 21, a junior at Bucknell.

University student involvement at the youth center is a continuation of the town and gown relationship between Bucknell and Lewisburg, Mullen said. It’s convenient, too.

“We can walk right over. It’s nice and local,” Mullen said.

The Heiter Center offers scholarships to families who may not be able to afford the modest fees for its programming. A school bus was recently purchased for the center to transport kids to off-site activities and planning is well under way for a new teen center in Mifflinburg.

According to Tufo, a Chestnut Street (Route 45) location is secured and it’s a matter of meeting code and zoning requirements before the site will be official. Among its planned features are a cafe and art studio.

The demographic will be different than the Lewisburg locale: 13 years and up compared to ages 5 to 13. With the bus, Tufo expects teens from Lewisburg to travel to their neighboring community and vice versa for Heiter Center programs and events.

A soft opening is planned for the summer and a full opening in September. Community support by way of participation and volunteers is needed.

“Mifflinburg is a different community and we want to make sure we appreciate that and build our own network there,” Tufo said.