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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Senior Center officials mum on rumored partnership with Greater Nashua YMCA

NASHUA – As the Nashua Senior Activity Center ramps up its schedule of fundraising events and focuses on strengthening relationships with its membership base, the board of directors remain tight-lipped about the possibility of establishing a partnership with a similar non-profit agency to stabilize its financial situation.

Martin Fabian, president of the Senior Center board, mentioned at the center’s annual meeting two weeks ago that a partnership is one of many ideas the board has been reviewing as a way of pulling the agency out of an economic malaise of nearly a decade. ...

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NASHUA – As the Nashua Senior Activity Center ramps up its schedule of fundraising events and focuses on strengthening relationships with its membership base, the board of directors remain tight-lipped about the possibility of establishing a partnership with a similar non-profit agency to stabilize its financial situation.

Martin Fabian, president of the Senior Center board, mentioned at the center’s annual meeting two weeks ago that a partnership is one of many ideas the board has been reviewing as a way of pulling the agency out of an economic malaise of nearly a decade.

But Fabian said Wednesday it would be premature to comment on any board initiatives that have to do with potential partnerships.

“I don’t have anything to report at this point,” Fabian said. “I don’t want to say (anything) until an agreement is reached.”

June Caron, a board member and Ward 7 alderman, referred questions to Fabian and Victoria Cookson, the vice president of the Senior Center board.

Some Senior Center members have indicated in recent days the center’s board may be talking with YMCA of Greater Nashua officials about a possible partnership, according to sources. Former city alderman Mark Cookson, who is a member of the YMCA board, is Victoria Cookson’s husband.

YMCA chief executive officer Mike Lachance acknowledged Wednesday “an option has presented itself” to the YMCA board, but added the Y is continually developing partnerships with other agencies for a variety of reasons.

“We’re always exploring options, and this has presented itself,” Lachance said. The Y currently has partnerships of one kind or another with more than 30 local agencies, he added, so it’s not unusual for the board to be in the midst of partnership talks at any given time.

“We’re a community operation,” Lachance said. “We’re an organization that regularly explores possible collaborative efforts. Many smaller organizations, especially those that don’t have their own building, use the YMCA as their “home base,” he said, where they host their meetings or events.

Fabian, meanwhile, spoke only vaguely at the Aug. 13 meeting on the partnership possibility, saying the idea “is still in the infancy stages.” He did say that no final decisions would be made until the membership is surveyed.

Fabian told members that the board began discussing a partnership after Mayor Donnalee Lozeau suggested it when she met with the board.

Among the benefits of partnering with another agency is the entities could share an endowment fund, some staff members and an executive director who would oversee both operations.

Interim Senior Center director Margo Bell said Tuesday that she’s not directly involved in board discussions about whether to form a partnership with another agency, and isn’t able to comment on its ongoing initiatives.

Bell, the center’s longtime project director, was appointed the interim director after former director Jeanne Marcoux resigned abruptly in July.

Bell is temporarily handling both jobs.

Bell did say she was pleased to see center members pack the large function room for the Aug. 13 annual meeting, a turnout prompted by rumors that the board was considering more than tripling the annual membership dues.

“I was very happy to see so many people come out,” Bell said Tuesday. “And I’m also pleased that the board is working so hard finding ways” to improve the center’s financial picture.

The roughly 90-minute meeting left directors, staff and members feeling optimistic about the future of the center. Directors refuted rumors that the center was in danger of closing, to which Board of Aldermen president David Deane added his assurance that it will live on.

“We will not let this place close,” said Deane, one of several aldermen who attended the meeting.

Board treasurer Elizabeth Cepaitis confirmed the center’s bleak financial situation, but was quick to add the leap in dues – from the current $35 annually to $125 per year – was merely an idea she floated at a recent meeting that “never made it to committee,” she said.

“It was my suggestion, but it wasn’t embraced by the board,” she told the group. “I just brought it up as another way we might be able to raise money.”

That the center has been unable to craft a balanced budget since 2006, most recently averaging a roughly $12,000 average annual shortfall from 2010-12, has forced the board to transfer money from the center’s endowment fund. Eight years ago the fund stood at about $250,000; it currently stands at $70,000, Cepaitis said.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com. Also follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).