Lacking heat and struggling with debt, Vernon, B.C. seniors’ centre fundraising for furnace

Vernon seniors’ centre in financial trouble

The Schubert Centre in downtown Vernon provides a feeling of belonging for many North Okanagan seniors.

It offers them a place where they can get a healthy meal, exercise and participate in activities.

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However, the Vernon seniors’ centre is facing significant challenges that are threatening to close the facility.

The Schubert Centre is carrying a sizable debt and has a worn-out heating system that has left a significant portion of the building without heat.

The non-profit seniors’ community centre is now fundraising for a furnace and HVAC system replacement, as it works to keep the doors open.

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Diane Weaver, the president of the centre’s board of directors, said the current heating and cooling system is more than 30 years old and is now “in desperate need of replacement,” as, at this point, “most of the building is not getting any heat at all.”

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Weaver said volunteers have been bundling up as they complete their work in the cold rooms and space heaters have been brought in for events.

If the problem isn’t fixed by the summer, Weaver said the facility would also face problems with air conditioning.

Weaver said a replacement heating and cooling system for the building would cost roughly $180,000.

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With no contingency fund and an already sizable debt load, the seniors’ centre is now trying to raise the entire $180,000 through fundraising.

The centre received a significant $9,800 donation from a local rotary club towards the project this week and has also been collecting other donations.

The centre is hosting a fundraising dinner on Friday as it works to raise funds for the new heating system.

Weaver said if the centre is able to raise enough money to replace the heating and cooling system, it will help keep the facility open by attracting more event rentals that bring in income.

“We have a debt that is quite large. We just need to manage that,” Weaver said.

“We are hoping in the next few months we can get a handle on things, but if we don’t, there is a real fear that we could close.”

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However, even if the heating system is fixed, Weaver said the seniors’ centre is still at risk of closing as it is carrying approximately $290,000 in debts.

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“The other debt still looms. We are doing what we can to manage it,” she said.

When asked, in a telephone interview with Global News, if she knew how debts were accumulated or if they are the result of a particular project, Weaver said she didn’t know.

More information about the Schubert Centre’s fundraising event is available on its Facebook page.