Dear Center Friends,
So exciting to see the halls of the Center buzzing as we are in full swing of the “season”… March is always a great month with so many fun events for the community to come together for, like our Dinner Theater and Tour of Homes!
Hopefully most of you were able to join us for our 9th Annual Murder Mystery event a few weekends ago…we had close to 450 people attend between the two evening performances and the feedback has been amazing. As we had hoped, this event was a true representation of our mission to serve as the community’s gathering place and create a fun and relaxed environment to do just that! The play was written by a local community member, Beth Shaughnessy, who serves on the Anna Maria Rotary Club and who is often found on the sidelines of our adult sports fields cheering on her husband and adult children (just look for the bright orange jerseys on the field and you will find some fierce competition!). Beth and her family are extremely passionate about the Center and led fellow cast, also community members, for several months of play practices for an amazing “shagadelic” show that filled the Center gymnasium with lots of laughs about our unique island antics as the Convention of Evil doers came to life! Beth has already begun writing for next year’s event and we as a Center will be focusing our efforts to improve and enhance your Murder Mystery experience as we feel strongly that this will now be our signature event…one that engages the entire Anna Maria Island community!
A special thanks to former Affaire to Remember Chair, Trudy Moon and her son Stewart Moon, Jr for their sponsorship of the Murder Mystery event and for Stewart himself serving as an amazing MC and Convention Coordinator…their family has been long time supporters of the Center and we are grateful to have their continued support. We are also extremely grateful for past board member Erik Abrahamson for stepping up to sponsor as well…and for Molly O’Connor with Traveling Gourmet for serving up delicious food for our guests and conference attendees!
Now in the midst of all the positive feedback on the event…I have found that there continues to swirl some “miss information” about any center happenings or changes, efforts to improve our services to the community, so- I figured I would start my own “FACT CHECKER” of sorts to help dispel rumors…here are just a few to get this rolling:
- The Center will no longer be offering baseball programs for area youth…
Absolutely NO! We have sodded the baseball field to decrease the messy clay within the building and allow for other sports like soccer and flag football ( larger youth sports) to have access to that field space. We recognize and appreciate the rich roots of baseball on the island and at the Center and will be rededicating the Scanio-Hutchinson Field, established in 1959, with our upcoming season of youth baseball in partnership with the Pirates.
- The Center has removed the spectator seating as to not allow people to watch our sports games…
With the new field layout allowing for increased space for our growing youth teams, we moved the bleachers to the side of the fence where the gate exists to enter the field-also making access to the stands easier for spectators.
- We deserve to fail because we do not want to adopt any ideas from the community, such as weight watchers, to generate needed revenue
We actually tried twice to launch a “weight watchers” program, we called it Weigh to Go (we cannot use the name weight watchers) and staffed a certified nutritionist and personal trainer, Melissa from Boomers in Motion. We heavily marketed and feedback from many was that they didn’t want to have to pay $10 for that each week.
- We are no longer offering the Beyond the Classroom after school program.
Not true. We exercised our partnership with Anna Maria Elementary while we worked through challenges with our bus and van grant with FDOT. We have now gotten the van released for use of transporting school children and have resumed programming at The Center. We will have a new Youth Director begin following spring break camp and will be offering a fun, interaction, and exploratory spring break camp “Explore The Shore and More.”
I completely appreciate the concern from the community however, I remain confident that we have the right strategic plan in place. We will continue to evolve our programming efforts based on the needs and interests of the community however, I encourage everyone to exercise their support by focusing efforts on our city commissions to support the Center. Both cities utilize the Center as part of their comprehensive plans and therefor I believe need to financially support the services we provide. We receive NO tax payer money and are simply looking for our city and county governments to invest in the programs and services that many cities and counties fully subsidize at a rate of 25% of a community center’s annual budget. Our funding levels have remained at 3 % for decades and I feel strongly we have demonstrated over the last two years we are here to stay! However, as we continue the climb…we need EVERYONES help and no one program will generate the revenue equivalent to government support. So, please-speak up and share your positive stories with the papers and at upcoming commission meetings. WE NEED THEM TO HEAR FROM YOU! This Center IS this community!!!
Hope to see you all at our upcoming events… our Rat Pack Dinner Theater with John Russo Saturday March 11th and the Tour of Homes Saturday March 18th!!