SARANAC LAKE - One year after the Saranac Lake Youth Center announced it might have to close its doors due to an ongoing financial crisis, Executive Director Elizabeth Carless says the organization is still struggling.
Over the past 12 months, the youth center has temporarily closed, reopened on Broadway and welcomed Carless its new director. Now, Carless awaits word on a request for stimulus funding in the amount of $465,000.
"It's been an interesting year," she said. "I started back in November, and we've put a lot work into both the business side of things as well as making sure we have a venue that fits the kids' needs."
Carless says she applied for $465,000 in growth and development funds though the New York State Office of Child and Family Services. The money would go toward the purchase of a commercial building to permanently house the youth center.
Carless has discussed several possible locations with the center's board of directors, including one prominent Main Street building.
Purchasing a building, she says, would eliminate the largest financial burden for the youth center.
"Most of our costs are associated with the cost of rent," she said.
"We're a nonprofit organization - we don't charge anything for the kids to use our services. Rent is our biggest hurdle."
The youth center does take on its own fundraising projects, however. This summer, Carless plans to kick-off a new, annual event to raise money.
"It's going to be the SLYC (Saranac Lake Youth Center) Circus," she said. "The circus is coming to town. We're going to have clowns and cotton candy and serve dinner and have a big tent event."
The event is still in the planning phase, but is tentatively scheduled for June 20. Carless hopes community members will volunteer to work as clowns and circus workers. "The kids will also put on a show," she said. "We're really excited to have this family event."
Carless said kids understand the financial situation and look to help out wherever possible. "As much as you want it to be the fun place to be, the kids understand that it is a business and we have financial needs," she said.
The kids have also sold raffle tickets, volunteered for United Way, created art for auction and participated in Relay for Life. Carless says the kids are constantly brainstorming for fundraising ideas.
"It's very inspiring to see that the kids here that use the facility understand that they play a part in giving back to the community and helping us keep our doors open," she said.
The youth center's website - www.saranaclakeyouth.org -- has added a new feature for residents looking to make donations. Individuals can now use PayPal if they find it easier than sending in a check.
Governor Paterson's office has not yet announced projects other than highway and bridge plans that have received stimulus funding.