SYRACUSE — They Syracuse Community Center, since it opened a decade ago, remains a work in progress.
The next improvement on the agenda will be the installation of air conditioning in the building and the replacement of five new exterior doors made possible by a $9,900 grant from the Governor’s Office of Appalachia combined with about $11,000 raised by Community Center volunteers. Both projects will be completed this summer, according to John Bentley, president of the Board of Directors.
Over the years, faithful volunteers have given hundreds of hours to restore, improve and expand facilities for use not only by the community but area organizations. They have held dozens of fund raisers to pay for the work of turning an old empty school building into an attractive and useful community facility.
“It’s taken a lot of good people working together, to make it what it is today,” said Bentley.
He credits the foresight of the late Syracuse resident Bob Wingett for his vision of what the building he purchased and gave to the village could bring to the community. That vision has inspired a spirit of volunteerism which can be seen every day. More and more groups are making use of the space offered. For instance today the River City Kids are presenting a musical show on the spacious stage in the gymnasium. Painting classes are underway in one of the restored classrooms, residents come daily to use the fitness room, meetings are held in an upstairs conference room, families have reunions in the large shelter house named for the late Ernie Sisson and built by volunteers, and children come to enjoy the new playground equipment erected nearby.
Over the past year or so, a new heating system has been installed, all the windows in the building have been replaced, and a generator has been put in place to make it qualify for use as a shelter should there be a disaster.
The installation of air conditioning this year will make the Community Center a more comfortable place to visit on even the hottest days of summer. No longer will heat deter residents from coming to enjoy the various activities there.
The air conditioning comes as a result of not only the grant award, but as a result of the work of numerous residents who volunteered in fund raising projects to serve as the required matching funds. The renovation of the building and the improvement of the grounds over the past 10 years is a testament to the value of volunteerism in a community.