Bend’s Community Center (BCC) Board President Bruce Abernethy announced Friday that due to financial uncertainties and other difficulties – pending an unforeseen benefactor or organization stepping forward – the Center would cease operations as of Friday, September 14.
As part of this action, BCC has let go Executive Director Taffy Gleason. Abernethy said that Linda Heatley, who formerly was BCC’s Deputy Director until 2010, will serve as interim executive director to oversee closure of BCC’s programs including its thrift store, senior meals and Sunday Feed the Hungry programs.
The building is owned by BCC that has a mortgage with Columbia Bank, but do not have much equity since it was refinanced last year.
The senior meal program is run by Central Oregon Council on Aging (they had been contracting with BCC to serve lunch). According to Abernethy, Executive Director Pamela Norr of COCOA said they will continue – the only question is where?
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 that was not enough. Abernethy said that BCC’s continued financial difficulties jeopardized grant funding that BCC had been counting on to continue its operations. Coupled with slowing donations in a down economy, there was no way that BCC could remain financially viable.
“We grappled with this decision and fully understand the huge impact this will have on many people who depend upon BCC. But, rather than postpone what appeared to be the inevitable and run up further costs, we felt it better to make the decision to close BCC operations at this time,” Abernethy said.
Abernethy said his hope and the hope of other board members is that by dissolving BCC as a nonprofit, this would free up the possibility that a successor organization could be found or could be formed that would pick up some or all of the programs that had made BCC such an important community asset over the past 10 years.