The Bend Community Thrift Store is closed. Inside, you see piles of clothes in disarray, waiting to be inventoried. Would-be shoppers in this business district of Northwest Bend are being turned away.
The lease on this building was up at the end of June, but the Bend Community Center thought it could keep the store going. A hard summer slump and some disappointing fundraising efforts meant the board had to make some choices, including getting the Thrift Store off its books.
Community Center officials say the problem began four years ago, when they decided to branch out from offering core services for the hungry and elderly. The expansion included the store and an expensive job training program.
Last February, the Board learned it wasn’t going to be able to cover all the nonprofit’s costs. In fact, the organization was in the red by $100,000 just last month.
Bruce Abernethy is the Board president. He says there’s always a slump during the summer, but the expenses are just too great this year to hold on until the blockbuster fundraising time around the holidays.
"Could we bridge the gap to get to those fundraising events? And we found that we just couldn’t," says Abernathy.
So now, the community center is dropping a number of services, including the store, a bike refurbishing effort and a diaper service for low-income families.
The center is seeking legal advice, and may still end up dissolving. Linda Heatley hopes that doesn’t happen. She’s the Interim Executive Director.
“If we can sustain ourselves -- and I hope we can -- we want to feed the hungry, to keep them warm. That’s the two core ... and the seniors, of course,” says Heatley.
Complete dissolution of the center is not off the table. In fact, the board originally planned to shutter the center only five days ago. But late donations have kept things going for the time being.
Bruce Abernethy says he knows this is an abrupt, and possibly disruptive change for the community.
“In retrospect, we could have handled this a little better. All I can say is, the board’s been dealing with this since February, it’s not abrupt to us. We’re all feeling a little bit stretched and burned out. And quite frankly we’ve been dealing with this the last 3 to 4 years. It’s been very, very stressful, ” says Abernethy.
Center officials are planning a community meeting next Monday. They hope people with ideas about how to maintain core services will attend.