Years of $100K deficits show Vernon senior centre's money woes go way back | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Years of $100K deficits show Vernon senior centre's money woes go way back

Vernon's Schubert Centre is going through some financial struggles and is looking to the community to come to its rescue.
January 21, 2020 - 4:15 PM

With volunteers at the front desk sitting in their winter coats to stay warm and seniors having to wear gloves while playing cards, the immediate need for a new $180,000 heating system at Vernon's Schubert Centre is very clear.

Coupled with a deficit of $290,000 the seniors centre is in grave financial difficulty – just managing to keep its doors open on a month by month basis.

Schubert Centre Society president of the board Diane Weaver said the financial situation at the centre was “very serious” and if it is not rectified the centre will end up closing.

“We have to get on top of it... and keep our doors open," Weaver said.

Weaver said she didn't want to hazard a guess at how long the centre could stay open if nothing changed, adding “right now we've just going month to month.”

While the president said she couldn't speak to the precise finances of the centre, Canada Revenue Agency documents show the centre has been running a six-figure deficit for at least the last five years.

In 2015, the seniors centre, which is a registered charity, reported revenue of $841,084 with expenses at $940,163 leaving the centre almost $100,000 in the red. While revenues have increased over the years, so have expenses. For the last reporting period March 2019 the centre had expenses of $1,222,353 while it brought in $931,605, leaving a $290,748 deficit.

Weaver said on top of this, the centre's heating and cooling system is 36 years old and “on its last legs.” It's estimated it will cost $180,000 to replace it. Currently around three quarters of the centre is not getting heat, and portable heaters have been brought in.

Weaver, whose been president of the board for just three months, said she isn't sure how the centre got into the financial predicament it's currently in. The centre has also just employed a new manager, whose also been on the job just a few months.

Located in downtown Vernon surrounded by apartment blocks largely vacated by seniors, the centre is in many ways a cornerstone of the community.

“It's a gathering place... if (seniors) didn't have Schubert to come to they would end up being quite isolated in their apartments,” she said. “With Schubert they can walk over in their walker and they can... get out of their apartment... that's one of the biggest draws to keep people from being isolated.”

To become a member of the centre costs $50 a year. Revenue comes from renting out meeting and event space, as well as a cafe that provides a daily hot meal and a thrift store.

According to the CRA, in 2019 the centre received $31,235 from different levels of government, $26,878 in donations, $26,780.00 in membership fees, with the bulk of their revenue coming from the sale of goods and service at $752,994.

Weaver said the community has been wonderful in supporting the centre.

The Kalamalka Rotary Club recently donated almost $10,000 towards the replacement of the furnace when the Schubert Centre reached out to them.

“Support us however you can, whether that's renting the centre for an event or making a donation or buying memberships, support the Schubert Centre in whatever way an individual can,” Weaver said.

In an effort to raise funds the centre is holding Schubert Centre Furnace Fundraiser Jan. 24. Tickets cost $125 for an evening of music and comedy with ventriloquist Don Bryan and music from the Shawn Lightfoot Band. A tax receipt of $75 will be issued. Ticket's can be bought at the Schubert Centre.

For information go here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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