With help from volunteers and the region’s business community, the Saratoga Springs Adult and Senior Center at 5 William St. is being renovated and improved.
“This community has really stepped up and supported us,” said Executive Director Lois Celeste.
“I’ve done a lot of networking,” she said, and also written successful grant applications and enlisted her friends in the Saratoga Springs area to help improve the center since becoming director in 2010.
Two years ago the center was running an $80,000 deficit and membership stood at 330 people. Today the deficit is gone and the center has more than 1,000 members.
An example of the community support is the new carport at the center being built by Kodiak Construction through a $60,000 grant from the Albert Z. Solomon Trust Fund. A new enclosed front entrance has also been built using a $10,000 grant from Price Chopper and the Golub Foundation.
The center will hold an open house from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday with a ribbon cutting at the Solomon pavilion and Golub entryway at 11 a.m. The open house for the whole family will include free games and ice cream for children and mini-classes on topics such as yoga, zumba and cooking.
Since 2010, the center’s interior has been cleaned and painted and old, inefficient windows have been replaced with energy-saving windows through federal Community Block grants. The federal money is also replacing an old, hard-to-control boiler system with an energy-efficient boiler.
Judy Giambona, a senior center member and volunteer, said the center has been improved since she joined a year ago.
“It’s really, really come a long way,” she said.
Giambona works at the center’s front desk two days a week. She said she enjoys the new classes introduced over the past year such as Zumba and line dancing.
Ten of the 13 members of the center’s board of directors have joined the board within the past two years.
“The board has lent their different talents to get us back on our feet,” Celeste said.
For example, treasurer George Koshuta, a retired bank executive, helped the center get “back on track financially,” she said.
Celeste convinced current board President Michael D. Billok to join the board in 2010. He has been board president a little more than a year.
Billok said that Koshuta was a “huge” help in getting the center back “into the black” after running a deficit for seven years.
He said the center appreciates the community support it has received in recent years.
He also praised Celeste’s work. “I don’t know where she gets all the energy,” Billok said.
Celeste said a $10,000 grant from Adirondack Trust Co. has allowed the center to install a new phone system. Another $10,000 grant from the Riggi Family and Turbine Services purchased a new copier and allowed the center to create its own website (www.saratogaseniorcenter.org). Eagle Scout projects bylocal Boy Scouts have created a back sun porch at the center.
Celeste said the senior lunch program at the center has expanded from just a handful of people to two dozen today. The center also has added a monthly dinner program using volunteers from the city schools, chefs from local restaurants and donations from area businesses.