The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

February 28, 2013

Center faces money burden

Laura Lee seeks ideas from public

BY BRIAN L. HUCHEL
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — Officials at Laura Lee Fellowship House are calling on members of the community to help solve a funding crisis.

The fellowship home at 212 E. Williams St. has been open in Danville since 1944, offering a variety of programs.

Now, however, the community center is facing money problems and looking for ideas from local residents, according to executive director Alice Payne. A board of directors meeting is scheduled for next week.

“We’re going talk about what we can do to sustain,” she said Thursday. “We just don’t want to have a Band-Aid solution. We want to formulate a long-term solution.”

According to Payne, the Laura Lee Fellowship House needs to determine how to obtain about $20,000. That amount would give the center “some breathing room” and put it on solid ground.

“What we want to do is lay out to the community where we are and where we want to be and what is necessary for us to continue,” she said.

If the board comes across a long-term plan it approves, the idea will be put into place “sooner rather than later,” Payne said. The center continues to accept donations.

“It is such a wonderful facility with so many tremendous programs,” she said. “We want to continue to maintain the facilities.

“But like everything else, it costs. And we want to make sure that we can continue to provide these necessary services to the community,” she added.

As a long-time part of the United Way, the Laura Lee Fellowship House has received annual assistance from the local United Way chapter for a number of years. But in the last 10 years, Payne said that total has dropped $10,000, leaving a gap in the funding.

The center received $50,000 from the United Way for this year.

“This is through no fault of theirs,” Payne said of the United Way. “We’re all in serious financial times. They’re struggling I’m sure like everyone else is.”

Payne — who became executive director in March 2012 — said it has been getting more and more difficult to find funds for the center.

A number of services for both young and old currently operate out of the Laura Lee Fellowship House, starting with the Lights On After School program, which receives the United Way funding. Three certified retired teachers serve as tutors for up to 70 children each day after school. A meal also is provided for the children.

The center also has a weight training room with a certified trainer and two computer labs inside its walls.

At the other side of the age ladder is two senior services groups that meet at the center — Jolly Seniors and Golden Seniors. CRIS Senior Services of Danville provides a meal each Wednesday morning at the center as well.

“Anything that can benefit them and extend their lives is important to us,” Payne said.

Laura Lee officials also rent out the center facilities on weekends and two churches also have services on Sundays there.

FYI

The Laura Lee Fellowship House Board of Directors will conduct a public meeting for ideas on the center’s money problems at 6 p.m. Thursday at the building, 212 E. Williams St.