2014-11-18 / Front Page

Cunot Community Center Facing Potential Closure As Donations, Volunteers Dwindle

by Michael Stanley
Staff Writer


Struggling to keep its doors open, the Cunot Community Center is in dire need of financial assistance, as well as remedies to a variety of maintenance issues. (Staff Photo) Struggling to keep its doors open, the Cunot Community Center is in dire need of financial assistance, as well as remedies to a variety of maintenance issues. (Staff Photo) As the chill of winter takes up temporary residency in Owen County, food, warm clothes and sometimes even a place to come indoors to escape the bitter cold can seem unattainable for far too many Hoosiers. For those living in the Jackson and Jennings township areas, the Cunot Community Center has long been available to lend a helping hand.

Like many non-profits, though, dwindling monetary donations and fewer and fewer volunteers taking an active roll in the daily operations have left the center floundering financially.

“We’re struggling. Lonna Skadra is our president, but unfortunately, she works, I work, and we can’t be here all of the time. We don’t have enough volunteers and there isn’t enough money coming in to keep the bills paid,” community center secretary Mable Capps explained. “By the grace of God, (the bills) are all caught up right now, but we can’t continue keeping the center open without funds coming in. We’re still holding our bingo games, but we don’t have enough bingo players to be able to keep going.”


Volunteer David Bussie holds open the door to one of several refrigerators full of food set for distribution to the 130 families served each week by the Cunot Community Center Food Pantry. (Staff Photo) Volunteer David Bussie holds open the door to one of several refrigerators full of food set for distribution to the 130 families served each week by the Cunot Community Center Food Pantry. (Staff Photo) In an effort to keep the center open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day, Capps’ 21-year-old son Steven Witty has volunteered his time.

“I don’t know what else to do, except to ask the community to please help this community center because it’s in desperate need,” she said.

Without the needed funds to keep its doors open, the center, as well as its food pantry, are in jeopardy of closing. The building also serves as a Red Cross Disaster Shelter and a distribution point for Salvation Army vouchers.


Cunot Community Center secretary Mable Capps (left) and treasurer Linnie Shields fold clothes donated to the center and sold to help raise funds. (Staff Photo) Cunot Community Center secretary Mable Capps (left) and treasurer Linnie Shields fold clothes donated to the center and sold to help raise funds. (Staff Photo) “It’s not just funding for our community center, we need help with several different things. Our roof and some of our lighting needs to be replaced,” Capps said. “Ceiling tiles need replaced, we have a room that needs drywall hung, and there is painting needed both inside and outside. We can’t get the volunteers or the money to do it. We need somebody who is going to support the center and actually care about the center. We run strictly on donations and our bingo.”

Bingo is offered every Saturday at the center, with early bird games starting at 6:30 p.m. and regular bingo getting underway at 7:00 p.m.

Each Wednesday and Thursday morning, the center opens the doors to its food pantry to between 105 and 130 area families from 9:00 a.m. until 12 noon.

“We’re giving Thanksgiving dinners out now and we’ll try to do Christmas if we can,” volunteer David Bussie said.

An application to the Owen County Council for its annual community grant program wasn’t submitted by the center’s board by the deadline date. That oversight will cost the center its annual county contribution of $1,000.

An application to the Owen County Community Foundation also wasn’t submitted the deadline, but grant applications have been submitted to South Central Indiana REMC and Endeavor Communications.

“The grants I did apply for, we won’t hear back about until December... but by the end of December, if we don’t have the money to pay our bills, we’ll have to close the doors anyway,” Capps said.

Several of the center’s seven board members and other volunteers have close ties to the building, many of which attended elementary school at the corner of State Road 42 and Cunot- Cataract Road.

“I’ve been up here since I was a teenager, my children grew up in this center. We want to keep it going and worry about what’s going to happen to our little community if it closes,” Capps added. “We don’t have the funds to make repairs, let alone the money to keep paying the bills. If we can’t pay our bills, we’ll have to close the doors. It just takes volunteers and there aren’t enough of us.”

Needed repairs range from a leaky roof and toilets to faulty lighting fixtures and a malfunctioning backup generator.

The center’s monthly bills include electricity, natural gas, telephone service, water and trash disposal. Insurance is another expense.

Treasurer Lenni Shields said the center simply needs a group of dedicated individuals who have the time to spend time and a desire to serve others.

“We try to tell everybody that comes to the center and food pantry about the condition the center is in and that we need help or the pantry and everything will close,” Shields added, “but all they say is, ‘Well, I’ll just go somewhere else.”

The Cunot Community Center and Food Pantry are located at 5530 State Road 42 in Cunot. If you’d like to help support the center, either financially or by volunteering, call 765- 795-3461 during normal business hours.

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