Seniors present possible solution to mortgage quandary


Evelyn Stover in 1940s
By: 
Philip A. Janquart
The Weiser Activity Center for Seniors is initiating the Evelyn Stover Challenge, which aims to pay off the roughly $195,000 mortgage through $1,000 donations from individuals or groups.
 It might seem like a lot, but administrators calculated that only about 4 percent of the community needs to donate $1,000 a piece in order to reach the goal.
 The call to Weiser residents is an urgent one, the senior center hanging on by a thread month after month.  
 It is an important and much-needed asset in Weiser and without it, seniors won’t have a place where they can get a low-cost meal and visit with friends. There are also 43 seniors that depend on the meal delivery service and would be forced to find another way to get food brought.
 In addition, there would be one less venue in town for special events such as the Veterans Day ceremony put on by the senior center and the Weiser Elks Lodge.
 The hall was packed on Friday with friends, family, administrators, and veterans who have served in various branches of the armed forces. 
 The ceremony was to honor all veterans, including those who lost their lives in defense of the nation.
 “There are a lot of men and women that went overseas to fight for us that didn’t make it home and we are free because of what they gave up,” said Weiser Elks Exalted Ruler Dick Sullender.
 Elks member Ike Fragoza read the names of the Weiser servicemen who died during America’s wars and conflicts, beginning with World War I. There are 85 up through the Vietnam War.
 Ethan Sullender offered a prayer and guitarist Lisa Johnson played the guitar and sang.
Senior Center mortgage
 Without the senior center, events like the Veterans Day ceremony would have to be held elsewhere.
 Although the senior center receives funds from the Area Agency on Aging and from Washington County, it only covers $7.25 per meal. It costs the senior center $12 for every meal it serves, which means administrators must rely on donations to cover the rest. The suggested donation for meals is $5 for seniors and $9 for everyone else, but there is no way of knowing how much people put in the collection box, if anything, making for a tight and unpredictable budget.
 Significantly weighing the senior center down is a nearly $1,800 per month mortgage that has shrunk little since the building was refinanced in order to pay back loans for its construction in 2010.
 An extra $1,800 per month would loosen up the budget and give administrators room to breathe.
 “We owe $192,566.10 and our payoff was $195,953, so we’ve just been paying interest,” said senior center Treasurer Linda Smith. “The total amount of payments on this loan was $461,073.60. We are not making any ground.”
The Solution
 Smith, Board of Directors President Karin Hoffer, and former volunteer Steve Cooper have been putting their heads together to come up with a way to pay the mortgage off.
 But the solution came from Weiser resident Norma Brown whose mother, Evelyn Stover, was one of a handful who donated funds so the old center could be torn down and the new center built.
 “My mom was quite the personality,” Norma told the Signal American. “She was a self-taught workaholic out of necessity who was crazy in love with Weiser and its citizens. The senior center, with its current crop of seniors, needs our help, so I came up with this one-time event that would never happen again. We could call it the Evelyn Stover Challenge.”
 Brown, Hoffer, Smith, and Cooper were the first ones to donate to the cause and said that groups and organizations could split the $1,000 donation between members. Ideally, they would like to meet their goal before Christmas, but there is no timeline.
 “It would make it our building, not the bank’s,” Smith said.
 “And it involves everyone in the community,” Hoffer added. “Everyone could walk into this building and use it for the next 100 years, for anything. I love the idea.”
 A sense of unity is one of the things Brown said has taken a hit in recent years.
 “Community is what suffered the greatest decline since Facebook and the pandemic, separating us from each other,” she said. “This could be the most heartfelt Christmas of our lives if we achieve this. Old relatives don’t need presents; they need a senior center, a place to socialize.”
 If the funding goal is met, the senior center could potentially become a more robust part of the community and possibly be utilized more for public events.
 The group plans to put up signs around town, post a notice of the Evelyn Stover Challenge on social media, and use local news media to get the word out. Pledge forms are available at the center.
 For more information, call Karin at (208) 550-1452, email to khoffer@weiserseniors.org, or stop by the center at 115 E. Main St.
 
       

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