No time to read the paper but want to know what is going on at The Center? Read below our press releases recently sent to our area papers.
The Center of Anna Maria Island’s board of directors hires longtime Boys and Girls Club leader as Interim Executive Director
Anna Maria, FL (February, 2018) –
Carl Weeks with over 45 years of Non-Profit experience, was tabbed as the interim executive director of The Center of Anna Maria Island.
Weeks who retired in 2013 after 42 years of service to the youth of Manatee County at the Boys and Girls Club was caught off guard when he recently received a phone call from Center Board Chairman David Zaccagnino. Weeks later stated that “he would gladly keep the seat warm until a permanent Executive Director can be appointed.” Soon after touring the facility Weeks said “The Center of Anna Maria Island is true community center that focuses on programs for all individuals’ ages 4 to 94. Activities are ongoing from 7am to 9pm daily.”
A Small portion of his Professional History includes:
President, Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County
January 2011 – October 2013
Executive Director, Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County
July 2000 – December 2010
Executive Director, Foundation for the Boys & Girls Clubs Inc.
January 2001 – June 2011
Executive Director, Cabarrus County Boys Clubs, Inc
Edgar H. Price Jr. – Humanitarian Award
January 17th, 2014
Kiwanis Club of Bradenton – Recognition for 40 years of service
National Service to Youth Award for 40 years of Service
November 18th, 2010
Boys & Girls Clubs of America National Professional Service Award.
November 18th, 2006
Moved to Bradenton in 1955
Attended Miller Elementary and Walker Junior High
Graduated from Manatee High School 1966
Graduated from University of South Florida, 1970 “Go Bulls”
The Center of Anna Maria Island Earns COVETED 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator
Demonstrating financial accountability and good governance, Largest independent charity evaluator gives Center exceptional rating
Anna Maria, FL (February 19, 2018) – The Center of Anna Maria Island’s strong financial health, and commitment to accountability and transparency have earned it a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator.
This is the first time the Center has earned this top distinction.
“The Center of Anna Maria Island’s exceptional 4-star rating sets it apart from its peers and demonstrates its trustworthiness to the public,” according to Michael Thatcher, President and CEO, Charity Navigator. “Only a quarter of charities rated by Charity Navigator receive the distinction of our 4-star rating. This adds the Center of Anna Maria Island to a preeminent group of charities working to overcome our world’s most pressing challenges. Based on its 4-star rating, people can trust that their donations are going to a financially responsible and ethical charity when they decide to support the Center of Anna Maria Island.”
The Center’s rating and other information about charitable giving are available free of charge on www.charitynavigator.org. More-detailed information about the Center’s rating is available to Charity Navigator site visitors who become registered users, another free service.
“Since becoming the Center’s executive director three years ago, it has been a priority for our donors to trust that we’re using their donations wisely to fulfil the Center’s mission—to enhance the overall well-being of individuals of all ages, while preserving a sense of community through creative programs and partnerships,” said Kristen Lessig, Executive Director, The Center of Anna Maria Island. “Our 4-star Charity Navigator rating demonstrates and reconfirms to our supporters the Center’s good governance and financial accountability.”
Since 2002, using objective analysis, Charity Navigator has awarded only the most fiscally responsible organizations a 4-star rating. In 2011, Charity Navigator added 17 metrics, focused on governance and ethical practices as well as measures of openness, to its ratings methodology. These Accountability and Transparency metrics, which account for 50 percent of a charity’s overall rating, reveal which charities operate in accordance with industry best practices and whether they are open with their donors and stakeholders. On June 1, 2016, Charity Navigator upgraded its methodology for rating each charity’s’ financial health with CN 2.1. These enhancements further substantiates the financial health of our four star charities.
The Center’s exceptional Charity Navigator rating comes on the heels of positive financial and membership news at the close of 2017, with a $130,000 donation, record enrollment and participation that nearly doubled during the year. It also follows the award of two new grants, being named in a trust, and notified as the recipient of a donation from the sale of a local estate—all in early 2018.
This follows the announcement that the Center’s executive director, Kristen Lessig, accepted a new position with the Sarasota YMCA, after successfully rehabilitating the Center to its current financially positive standing. Under Lessig’s leadership, and working in very close step with the Board, the Center paid off its $1.1 million commercial loan.
About Charity Navigator
Charity Navigator, www.charitynavigator.org, is the largest charity evaluator in America and its website attracts more visitors than all other charity rating groups combined. The organization helps guide intelligent giving by evaluating the Financial Health, and Accountability and Transparency of more than 8,000 charities. Charity Navigator accepts no advertising or donations from the organizations it evaluates, ensuring unbiased evaluations, nor does it charge the public for this trusted data. As a result, Charity Navigator, a 501 (c) (3) public charity itself, depends on support from individuals, corporations and foundations that believe it provides a much-needed service to America’s charitable givers. Charity Navigator, can be reached directly by telephone at (201) 818-1288, or by mail at 139 Harristown Road, Suite 101, Glen Rock, NJ, 07452.
AFTER SUCCESSFUL COMMUNITY CENTER REHABILITATION, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR KRISTEN LESSIG TO JOIN SARASOTA YMCA AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
Lessig’s significant success during tenure at the Center of Anna Maria Island Creates bright future for the community’s gathering place
Anna Maria, FL (February 2, 2018) – The Center of Anna Maria Island executive director, Kristen Lessig, has accepted a position as Executive Director of Youth Development for the Sarasota YMCA.
“The Y casted a big net nationally and had more than 200 resumes submitted for the executive director position,” said Keith Quick, Vice President, Sarasota YMCA. “After phone interviews and personal interviews, it was very clear that the perfect leader was actually right down the road in Anna Maria Island. We are so thankful and feel extremely fortunate to have Kristen Lessig as our new Executive Director of Youth Development for the Sarasota Y.”
Lessig joined the Center December 1, 2014 and has had a significant impact during her more than three years as the Center’s executive director. She will remain executive director through February 19, 2018, and has prepared a plan to support the Center’s board and staff through the transition and beyond.
“The Center has been fortunate to have Kristen turn the community center around, from close to shutting its doors, to the positive budget bottom line it has today,” said Carol Whitmore, Manatee County Commissioner. “My family attends programs almost daily, and I have observed the successful operations first hand. Kristen has gained our community’s respect with her no-nonsense approach to running the Center. It’s not surprising that the Sarasota YMCA recruited and hired her. Kristen has made a true impact on Anna Maria Island for the better.”
After joining the Center, Lessig lead a committee of board members and staff to create a strategic plan, and managed a rebranding process to accurately reflect and communicate the center’s mission, programs and brand. She also recommitted several long-term donors to support the Center’s newly refreshed mission with the help and support of many long-time Center supporters and former leaders.
Lessig lead the Center through the City of Anna Maria financial review, in addition to an external operational review. She responded to the community’s request for improved communication by appointing a staff communications manager and investing in professional advertising and promotions. Lessig also elevated the quality and level of Center staffing, and she created a team atmosphere to promote a healthy environment and workplace.
“I have been involved with the Center over the last 18 years as a board member, city commissioner liaison, volunteer, coach and donor,” said David Zaccagnino, Chairman of the Center’s Board. “I cannot express enough gratitude for Kristen and her tireless work. She has guided the Center to be a financially viable, successful, and fulfilling destination for our residents and Island visitors. The transformation during the last couple of years has been incredible. She carried forward the strengths from the community founders before her, and added immense programming and vision. I have no doubt that the Center would have continued to struggle without her leadership. While she will be missed as executive director, we’re lucky she’ll still remain a member.”
During her tenure, Lessig worked with the team to restructure membership to be all-inclusive, which focused on its value. Membership activity has increased significantly, with the Center nearly doubling its participation rate between 2016 and 2017 alone.
Lessig also shifted the Center’s fundraising strategy away from focusing on one major event, and instead enhanced the focus on already existing and previously smaller events, to become anchor events. This offered the community a variety of choices and ways to participate, according to what suits individual and family preferences.
“I cannot overstate enough that the Center’s success and improvements would have been impossible without the enormous support, collaboration and teamwork from the Center’s dedicated staff and members of the Board,” said Kristen Lessig, Executive Director, The Center of Anna Maria Island. “The staff specifically has been equally as passionate about, and committed to the Center of Anna Maria Island. I am grateful and lucky to have worked with such a dedicated and talented team. I am excited to be able to take on an exciting, new opportunity with the Sarasota YMCA, while continuing to be a part of this special community as a member.”
In order to support the Center’s technology and financial infrastructure, Lessig secured a capital grant though the Selby Foundation. She also established essential administrative systems to ensure proper IT support, tracking all program activity and daily attendance for all Center programs.
“As Board Treasurer for the Center, I have watched Kristen drive phenomenal improvements and growth in the Center’s operations since day one, through her extraordinary efforts and her determination to make every aspect of operations ‘the best that they can be,’ said Jim Froeschle, Board Treasurer, 2014 – 2018. “It is not an exaggeration to say that the Center would not be open today without her efforts.”
Programs are a cornerstone of the Center’s value. In an effort to enhance program quality for the community, Lessig engaged field experts and established partnerships with key organizations, like the Center Stone for Family Support Programming, Ringling College Life Long Learning Academy, Anna Maria CrossFit and Island Fitness.
Lessig enhanced the Center’s after-school program to focus on enrichment activities. Now known as Beyond the Classroom, the program was recently awarded a $6,500 Trolley Giving Back Grant from the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce. Combined with another recent $1,000 grant from the Michael Saunders Foundation, the Center can make the Beyond the Classroom available to all community children—regardless of families’ ability to pay.
Knowing the importance of good presentation, Lessig worked with the Board to improve the appearance of facilities, and create better uses for dead space to expand and enhance program offerings. The field, tennis court and grounds were improved and repaired where necessary.
Cleanliness became a priority in the building and on the property. The Center contracted landscaping and cleaning services, which replaced a full-time position and reduced costs while also improving the Center’s quality for the community.
“The Anna Maria Island community owes a debt of gratitude to Kristen Lessig for all the hard work she has put into building the Center into a first-class community center,” said Bill Shuman, the Center’s Board Chair from July 2015 – June 2017. “Kristen started by refreshing the building inside and out, and renovating rooms for kids, teens and adults. She implemented numerous programs that continue to bring a growing number of full and part time residents, as well as visitors to the Center. Kristen leaves the Center with a mortgage paid and in the black financially. She has truly made the Center the ‘community’s gathering place,’ and I thank and wish Kristen continued success.”
Lessig worked with the treasurer to establish a new, detailed accounting structure with support of a professional accountant, building an expansive, detailed view of revenue and expenses. To achieve complete transparency with the community, she created a Center Financials webpage that shares all financial details externally. Under Lessig’s leadership, and working in very close step with the Board, the Center paid off its $1.1 million commercial loan.
“We will miss Kristen and wish her well in her new endeavor,” said Mike Thrasher, Board Member 2015 – 2018, “Kristen has always put herself last, as she is all about other people, and the community first. She has indeed made the Center great again.”
MORE EXCITING FINANCIAL NEWS, EVENTS AT CENTER OF ANNA MARIA ISLAND 2 NEW GRANTS AWARDED, CENTER WILL BE NAMED IN A TRUST AND RECEIVE A GIFT FROM THE SALE OF LOCAL ESTATE
10th Annual Murder Mystery will be sponsored by Air & Energy and
Presented by The Boilermaker to Honor the late Rex Hagen, February 16 and 17
25th Annual Tour of Homes confirms 3 homes for March 17
Anna Maria, FL (January 31, 2018) – On the heels of positive financial and membership news—with a $130,000 donation, record enrollment and participation that nearly doubled during the year—the Center of Anna Maria Island was awarded two grants, will be named in a trust, and receive a gift from the sale of a local estate.
It also secured two title sponsors for the 10th Annual Murder Mystery on February 16 and 17, and confirmed three homes for the 25th Annual Tour of Homes on March 17, which includes six stops.
Center Awarded $7,500 in Grants Allowing it to Offer Kids After-School Program Community-Wide
The Center was awarded a $1,000 grant by the Michael Saunders Foundation, as a charitable organization offering shelter, sustenance, education and a path to self-sufficiency in local counties. It also received a $6,500 Trolley Giving Back Grant from the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce to support the Beyond the Classroom after-school program.
Combined support from both grants allow the Center to make the Beyond the Classroom available to all community children—regardless of families’ ability to pay.
“The grants will make it possible for the Center provide all the community’s children an opportunity to develop strong, healthy life and social skills in a safe, learning environment, without financial barriers,” said Kristen Lessig, Executive Director, The Center of Anna Maria Island. “We are grateful to use the awards to invest in the island’s future. A special thank you goes to Ken Kavanaugh and Margo Love Story for their support through the Michael Saunders Foundation, and the AMI Chamber Board, staff and Grants Committee for their investment in the Center’s Beyond the Classroom after-school program.”
Children in the after-school program, kindergarten to fifth grade, get time and help with homework and reading, a healthy snack and 60-minutes of play. In addition, kids have opportunities for social development—learning empathy, personal space, social overtures, tone, attention span, nonverbal skills, etc.
Center Will Be Named in a Trust and Receive Gift from Sale of Local Estate
The Center has also been notified by a member that it will be named in a trust, and that the Center is the recipient of a gift. The contribution will be a percentage of the sale of a local estate. Both donations will be settled in the next few months.
“These two major investments will allow us to make a significant contribution back to the Center’s endowment, as well as place funds into our reserve account,” said Kristen Lessig, Executive Director, The Center of Anna Maria Island. “We are overwhelmed with the community’s generosity and grateful for these planned gifts that enable the Center to reinvest in and strengthen Anna Maria Island.”
Air & Energy’s 10th Annual Murder Mystery presented by The Boilermaker Honors the Late Rex Hagen
The 10th Annual Murder Mystery is Friday, February 16 and Saturday, February 17. The evening of laughter, fun, food and murder is sponsored by Air & Energy and presented by The Boilermaker, in honor of the late Rex Hagen for his continuing support of the Center. The play, “What happens on the island…stays on the island,” has a Vegas theme, including Elvis, and guests are encouraged to dress in their “vegas best!” The play is written and directed by Beth and Bri Shaughnessy.
Tickets are $45, and include a sit down dinner and the show. There will be a cash bar, live auction and raffles. Doors open at 7:00pm, and the show starts at 7:30pm. For an additional $15, guests can join the VIP Mingle with the Cast at 6:30-7:15pm. The event is for adults only. Buy tickets for Friday, February 16. Buy tickets for Saturday, February 17. Contact Kristen Lessig about sponsorship opportunities.
The 25th Annual Tour of Homes—3 Confirmed and Chance to Win Free Center Membership
Showing off the best in island living, this 25th edition of an annual tour of local homes, will include five homes and six stops on March 17, 10:00am to 4:00pm. Distinctive architecture, elegant interiors and stunning waterfront views will be open to the public. Three homes are confirmed, thanks to gracious homeowners: Wooley and Art Dutton, Don and Leah Purvis, and Jane and Tom Gauld.
The last stop is the Center Bazaar located at the Center of Anna Maria Island (407 Magnolia Avenue). It will have boutique, original arts and crafts, and food vendors, in addition to chances to win a beautiful handmade quilt created by the Eyeland Needlers. The quilt is currently on display at the Island Library through January 31. Quilt raffle tickets are on sale for $1 each, or six for $5, and can be purchased at the Center. Tours will also be available at the Bazaar, in addition to the opportunity to enter to win a free Center membership. Tickets are $30. Contact Diane Phinney to show a home or property. Contact Kristen Lessig about sponsorship opportunities.
THE CENTER OF ANNA MARIA ISLAND HAD RECORD ENROLLMENT, ALMOST DOUBLED PARTICIPATION SINCE 2016, AND SURPASSED ITS FUNDRAISING GOAL BY NEARLY $100K, DURING JULY 1—DECEMBER 31, 2017
The Center remains on track to a balanced budget for the community’s gathering place
Anna Maria, FL (January 24, 2018) – The Center of Anna Maria Island had record enrollment and participation—which about doubled in one year—and surpassed its fundraising goal by nearly $100,000, during July 1–December 31, 2017.
Since the same time period one year ago (7/1/16–12/31/16), the Center almost doubled participation, from a 1,774 participation rate, to a 3,318 participation rate in 2017. Family memberships increased by 53, from 16 family memberships in 2016, to 69 family memberships in 2017. Senior memberships increased by 85, from 20 senior memberships in 2016, to 105 senior memberships in 2017.
The Center surpassed its fundraising goal by nearly $100,000, raising $265,468.64 during the time period, compared to its $166,750 target for December 31, 2017. This puts the Center on track to meet its $300,000 fundraising goal for June 30, 2018.
Programming income is up 18 percent, from $174,264.11 in 2016, to $206,156.42 in 2017. Direct expenses decreased 20.5 percent, from $205,292 in 2016, to $163,169 in 2017. Fixed cost/indirect expenses decreased 12%, from $205,715 in 2016, to $180,594 in 2017.
“The Center is excited to have surpassed our fundraising goal by nearly $100,000, and we’re on track to meet our $300,000 fundraising goal for June 30, having raised $265,468.64 between July and December,” said Kristen Lessig, Executive Director, The Center of Anna Maria Island. “With increased program revenue and an even deeper decrease in expenses, we are confident the Center will not only meet a balanced budget, but be able to set aside funding in reserves. With record enrollment and participation in 2017, and even in 2018, we are grateful that the community finds value in the Center.”
In 2018, the Center’s active snowbird members increased by 103 since last year, from 71 active snowbirds on January 18, 2017, to 174 active snowbirds as of January 18, 2018.
$130,000 DONATION TO THE CENTER OF ANNA MARIA ISLAND INTENDED TO FURTHER THE CENTER’S POSITIVE IMPACT ON THE COMMUNITY
Gift to be reinvested into programs and services that benefit Anna Maria Island
Anna Maria, FL (January 19, 2018) – The Center of Anna Maria Island received a $130,000 contribution to support its programs and services that benefit the community.
The donation was made by a part-time resident who has witnessed the Center’s positive impact first-hand. The gift is intended to support the Center’s continued efforts to preserve the sense of community and further positive impact the Center makes on Anna Maria Island.
“This donation is a vote of confidence in the hardworking leadership exemplified by the Center’s board, volunteers and staff,” said Kristen Lessig, Executive Director, The Center of Anna Maria Island. “At the heart of the Center lies the power to be a part of something special—our community. Whether it’s pickle ball, book club, BINGO, your children’s flag football games, or a favorite group fitness class, the Center is excited to reinvest this money into the community’s gathering place.”
Per the donor’s request, $30,000 of the contribution will be designated to hire a development and marketing director who will join the Center’s team.
“The outpouring we have seen just in the last few months has us entering 2018 with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude,” said Ed Chiles, local resident and former Board Member, The Center of Anna Maria Island.” Because of the Center’s supporters, significant accomplishments and shared discoveries are happening every day. These achievements move the Center forward, and in turn, move our community forward.”
The Center of Anna Maria Island, located at 407 Magnolia Avenue on Anna Maria, is GETTING FIT FOR OUR COMMUNITY!! We are excited to announce that Island Fitness will soon be joining the Center as we work to fulfill our mission to enhance the overall wellbeing of individuals of all ages while preserving a sense of community through creative programs and partnerships. Following an operational review several weeks ago and a strategic analysis of our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats- the team at the Center, including key members of the staff, board, community, and city of Anna Maria identified the need to work more collaboratively within the community, driving partnerships to be even more successful in serving as a resource for overall wellness in our community. Further, the Center is grateful for the opportunity to be able to assist a local island business.
The Center and Island Fitness are currently working through the specifics of the partnership agreement, as it relates to the transition of Island Fitness members. In the meantime, we are welcome all Island Fitness members to come in and tour the facility, trial one of our amazing classes. Additional details and finalized timeline will be released to both member groups via email.
Anna Maria CrossFit will still remain a key Center partner offering close to 30 hours of direct programming to benefit the Center and its membership development efforts. Additionally, Anna Maria CrossFit will be able to focus efforts on growing its active membership base with the inclusion of Cross Fit Kids programs beginning in November.
The Center is always looking for ways to team up with other partners and businesses to improve our services provided to our community. Quote from Brenda Canning, Island Fitness owner, “ I am looking forward to bringing my years of fitness experience to the community center to both increase the service offerings for Island Fitness members and to the community centers current members. I am confident that through this relationship we will be able to create a mutually beneficial opportunity for growth and community involvement.”
Kristen Lessig, Executive Director of The Center added, “I am extremely excited about the opportunity to work with Brenda and the Island Fitness team. The Center team is looking forward to expanding our reach within the community through true collaboration. Brenda has an amazing reputation and following in the community, as well as expertise in the fitness industry that will add great value to the services we provide, while our expansive programs and committed staff will allow for Island Fitness members to truly be part of our efforts to preserve the sense of community on the island.”
The Anna Maria Island Tour of Homes is back to show off the best in island living. The 25th edition of the one-day tour will feature five new and recently remodeled homes on March 17, 2018. Distinctive architecture, elegant interiors and stunning waterfront views will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets will be $30. The Center of Anna Maria Island, located at 407 Magnolia Avenue on Anna Maria, will host the Bazzar, which offers a stop for food vendors, original arts and crafts, as well as chances to win a beautiful handmade quilt created by the Eyeland Needlers.