Bend Community Center: A Nonprofit in Crisis

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It’s an interesting challenge for the community to understand exactly what went wrong and why it appears that the Center was being so poorly managed that they were unable to rally. The building itself, complete with a 4,000 square foot rental hall and recently refurbished kitchen, is owned by the organization and with that kind of asset it would seen prudent to try and salvage the programs perhaps by hiring a new director and making a public plea for help.

The board of Bend Community Center announced recently that the nonprofit organization that helps the homeless and seniors by providing free food, clothing, emergency shelter, job training and other basic essentials would close immediately.

The clientele ranges from teens and seniors to families and veterans and people with mental or physical disabilities. The facility has been the largest provider of free meals for homeless, low-income and elderly people in Bend.

The programs included hot meals every Sunday along with sack lunches and various food items donated to other food kitchens and shelters, including Bethlehem Inn and Family Kitchen. Low-income seniors are also given a hot lunch Monday-Friday every week.

BCC has been completely dependent on the community, prompting various individuals, organizations, businesses and churches to bring different things to the table. Every week roughly 75 volunteers prepare meals and local grocery stores, restaurants and NeighborImpact (BCC’s food bank partner) donate food supplies. But something wasn’t going right.

Board Chair Bruce Abernethy said that the board had been tracking the Center’s financial well-being for almost a year and that the organization had worked hard to restructure programs to cut costs and streamline operations.  But, ultimately he said that was not enough.

It’s an interesting challenge for the community to understand exactly what went wrong and why it appears that the Center was being so poorly managed that they were unable to rally. The building itself, complete with a 4,000 square foot rental hall and recently refurbished kitchen is owned by the organization and with that kind of asset it would seen prudent to try and salvage the programs perhaps by hiring a new director and making a public plea for help. But it doesn’t appear that any of that happened.

In fact, in the July 18, 2012 issue of Cascade Business News an article was published recognizing the BCC’s tenth anniversary with no signs of distress signaled. Executive Director and founder Taffy Gleason stressed then: “that society is only as strong as its weakest link and that the higher the standard of living the poor have, the healthier the community is. BCC volunteers have been pouring themselves into the process of raising this standard for ten years, and show no signs of slowing up.”

Indeed, it was at the recent TEDx Bend conference that Blake Canterbury founder and C.E.O. of beremedy, a social media group that connects those in need with the individuals who have the means to fulfill them said: “So often community and social service organizations have no expedient outlet for their clients’ requests. They spend countless hours tracking down resources to fulfill basic human necessities. Those in need suffer because there is no quick or efficient manner to replay their message. On the other hand, so many individuals and organizations want to help, but don’t know how.”


Therein rests our community’s challenge: when we see a need we surely must know we have the ability to provide it. Every city has needs. Often these needs go unmet because the message doesn’t get out. There are those who want to help, but don’t know how.

In this case we trust that our community will see the need for the Bend Community Center’s program and rise to the challenge.

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