Support pours in for struggling Anna Maria Island Community Center

acastillo@bradenton.comJuly 9, 2014 

The Anna Maria Island Community Center is under threat of possible closure from lack of funds, but a recent outpouring from the community is giving new hope for the facility on Magnolia Avenue. AMARIS CASTILLO/Bradenton Herald

ANNA MARIA -- A month ago, the Anna Maria Island Community Center was in deep financial trouble -- so much so it was in danger of closing.

Since then, support from the island community has poured in to better the center's situation.

"So far we've brought in a little more than $72,000," said AMICC Executive Director Dawn Stiles over the phone Tuesday morning.

The center at 407 Magnolia Ave. also received a $50,000 match from an anonymous donor. Stiles said previously she hopes to raise about $700,000 to cover center expenses for a year and a half or two.

Established in 1960, AMICC programs for children, teens, adults and seniors include iron yoga, karate and summer camp. The center also provides services through the Family Foundations Counseling Program.

Factors connected to the center losses include the troubled economy and a new building. Stiles told the Herald in June the AMICC's new building "is larger so it costs more to insure... more to operate."

On July 1, the AMICC Board met to approve the new fiscal year budget. Seven new members were elected to the board, bringing its total to 13.

According to Stiles, community efforts to help the ailing center include a lemonade stand organized by boys who frequent AMICC, chocolate bar sales from an 11-year-old girl spending the summer on the island with her grandmother and a boy making tie-dye shirts to sell.

Many people pitching in

There's also a Point of Sale initiative started by volunteers.

"Several businesses have a container to collect donations on their counters and/or they have agreed to donate from sales (either a percent or a set amount) for a period of time ranging from the weekend of July 4 to all of July to July-August," Stiles emailed Tuesday.

Jennifer Cascardo and Kenny Heidt, co-founders of a multimedia production company called Sugar Beach Digital, offered pro bono services to AMICC. In late June, the business partners shot 12 hours of footage for a short video that went live June 26 on YouTube. The heartwarming video features interviews with AMICC members of all ages, Stiles and AMICC Community Program Director Jennifer Griffith and children shown playing soccer and creating art.

"What we did out of that was start the initial new branding message to 'Share with the Community,'" Cascardo said. "We designed it so it wasn't so much a call for funding, but more about a call for more participation."

Sugar Beach Digital is also managing the center's social media accounts, including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter (the new Twitter handle is @AMICCenter).

A second community meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the AMICC gymnasium.

New board members will be announced and a budget and growth strategy discussed, according to a press release issued by the center. The finalized 2014-15 budget will also be reviewed with members of the community, including $937,138 in projected total expenses and $981,047 in projected total revenue.

Stiles described the new budget as "really strong."

"I think it will be a break-even budget," she said. "We'll be able to turn the corner and stop losing so much money."

Amaris Castillo, Law Enforcement/Island Reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. You can follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.

Bradenton Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service