Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites


Volunteers still keeping Woodstock Community Center open

by: MERRY MACKINNON - After the Center was threatened with closure ten years ago, an agreement between Portland Parks and Recreation, the Woodstock Neighborhood Association, and the Friends of Woodstock Community Center, has kept Woodstock Community Center open with volunteers and community support. Threatened with closure ten years ago in a previous cost-cutting situation by the city, Woodstock Community Center has been kept open through the efforts of a group of hard-working volunteers.

And this year, the Woodstock Community Center isn't facing any further proposed cuts by Parks and Recreation, because it has already been cut to the bare bones.

“Woodstock does not have any dedicated full-time staff, and we expect that this proposal [for 10% cuts in the PP&R budget this year] will not impact Woodstock operations,” Portland Parks and Recreation Media Relations Officer Mark Ross told THE BEE.

Currently budgeted at just under $33,000 of program revenue, with no General Fund for operations, Woodstock Community Center has two part-time staff who journey from the Mt. Scott Community Center, and it still receives some General-Fund-supported maintenance.

Woodstock Community Center remains available to the community thanks to the Woodstock Neighborhood Association and Friends of Woodstock Community Center, its volunteer members, and community support. Volunteers donate an average of 400 hours per quarter, and perform routine maintenance inside and outside the center. They also raise money for such things as paying for custodial supplies and services – through plant sales, rental use of the building, program activity revenue, and donations (which are held in a trust fund at Southeast Uplift).

In effect, their work keeps the center available to Woodstock, but in a way that is cost-neutral to the city.

“Woodstock is quite small in budget size compared to our other centers; but it is similar to our Fulton and Hillside Community Centers in that it operates in a self-sustaining way, without General Fund support for direct operations,” Ross said.

In fiscal year 2011-2012, Woodstock Community Center had 6,492 visits.

“It’s not that easy,” commented Terry Griffiths, a member of Friends of the Woodstock Community Center. “It probably helps that the Woodstock Community Center is not very big.”

As mentioned earlier, the Woodstock Community Center is a satellite of Mt. Scott Community Center. At a March Woodstock Neighborhood Association meeting which included the Director of the Woodstock and Mt. Scott Community Centers, Craig Vanderbout, Vanderbout reportedly told the audience that every dime made at the Center for classes goes straight back to the Woodstock Community Center. He said Woodstock Community Center is a model being looked at by some other community centers.

But, some are questioning how long a model dependent on volunteerism can last. And, in the case of Woodstock Community Center, some of those volunteers, particularly a group of four individuals who have been essential in keeping the Center operating for years, now have grandchildren with whom they’d like to spend more time.

“Three of us have been doing this for nine years. This is only sustainable if the Friends of the Woodstock Community Center group can be replenished,” reflected Griffiths, adding, “We have to be self-sustainable, or we will be on the chopping block.”