If We Open It, Will They Come?
Mantua - Since March, I have been leading a small group of Mantua Township residents in attempting to establish a Community Center at Mantua Center in the old school building on Center Road, just north of SR 82. We meet in the fully accessible cafeteria wing (at left in attached photo) on Wednesdays, starting at 10am. Coffee and tea are always available, and we’ve been enjoying very good potluck lunches each noon, with folks bringing a good variety of food to share. People come to socialize, play cards, or work on a jig-saw puzzle. Some bring their portable projects, such as scrapbooking, knitting, crochet, or quilt piecing, and are willing to teach or share hints with others interested. A box of board games includes Scrabble, Apples to Apples, Racko, and many others. Most afternoons there is a group playing cards. Hours were recently expanded to accommodate a 7pm beginner Yoga class, and we will be open until 8pm through October 3oth, when the class ends. There has been no response so far to the invitation to add a potluck supper, so we will probably go back to closing at 4:00 in November. We will not be open Nov. 6th, (or the day after any other election) because the election board reserves that day as well as election day, for removal of their equipment. We have avoided calling this a “senior center” because we want everyone to feel welcome.
When the first school open house was held three years ago, there were many comments that the building should be used as a community or senior center, and during the first weeks we had it open, attendance was consistently 20 to 30 people. Participation has fallen off rather than growing as we had hoped. The building, which was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places, belongs to the township, and those of us working on this project feel strongly that it should be available for use by the residents. At my request and with my encouragement the township trustees have established a policy which allows rent-free use for events that meet certain criteria, including that they are “free and open to all” events held Monday thru Thursday. Each event must be approved by the trustees, but I am not aware of anyone else making a request for such approval. As of now we have reserved the space for the rest of October, the last three Wednesdays in November, and the first three in December. Since Christmas and New Years Day are Wednesdays, we will not be open then. We would like to keep the Community Center at Mantua Center open indefinitely, but that will depend on participation and others coming forward to help with leadership. Won’t you come join us? It’s our building, but it’s only truly ours if we use it.