Ephrata calls on fundraising group to help rec center
BY LARRY ALEXANDER, Staff Writer
Ephrata Borough Council is turning to a professional fundraising organization to help the local recreation center out of a financial funk.
Jennifer Silbert of Lancaster-based Silbert Fund Raising addressed council at its nonvoting meeting, Monday, and outlined her plan to assist the Ephrata Recreation Center in better reaching out to the community, and generate more in the way of donations and contributions.
Silbert told council that there are more than 10,000 nonprofit groups in Pennsylvania, not including fire companies, libraries and religious organizations. That's in comparison to 300 when she started her business 18 years ago.
"That means there is so much more competition for those charitable dollars," she said.
She said it is important for the center to communicate its goals and services to the community.
"Everything you send out has to be right on target, because there is so much competition," she said.
After visiting the rec center, Silbert feels the "community piece is missing" and that the center only reaches a portion of its market.
Silbert said she starts with a feasibility study which tests the center's marketability, seeing how much people know about it, and to look for "great volunteers" to help with fundraising and also seek out corporate sponsors.
After the three-month feasibility study is over, another month is spent training the rec's board of directors on effective fundraising and how to bring in more volunteers and increase community awareness of the center.
The strength of the board, she said, "determines the success of the center."
Ephrata Borough Manager Bob Thompson said what triggered calling in Silbert was when the borough had to help the rec pay its debt service last December.
"To make sure that does not perpetuate, the idea is to get them in a position where they could become more self-sufficient," Thompson said.
Councilman Robert Good said he liked Silbert's proposal, but added, "I have my doubts" that the rec center board of directors would be willing to adhere to Silbert's advice.
Council President Dale Hertzog said Silbert is "offering us a wonderful product" and it deserves a chance.
"We've got to give it a shot," Hertzog said.
The cost of the contract is $26,000. Council will vote on it at its Monday meeting.
Also on Monday, council will vote to amend an ordinance pertaining to the purchase of gold items for resale by borough businesses. At present, dealers submit weekly reports on items they purchase for resale, police Chief William Harvey said. The amendment also calls for photographs, as well as descriptions of the items, that can be sent electronically to police.
Harvey said the amount of gold being sold by individuals to pawn shops and second-hand stores is increasing. The amendment makes it easier and faster for police to detect stolen items.
Another ordinance amendment that will be voted on next week ends the police practice of impounding bicycles, skateboards, roller skates and other wheeled items used in prohibited areas, such as downtown sidewalks.
Harvey said the original ordinance, passed in 1996, called for officers to impound such items for up to 15 days. However, Harvey said when someone is stopped for a DUI in a car, the car is not impounded.
He called impounding skateboards and so forth without any warrants, a "due process issue," which goes against the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
"Just to have someone illegally skateboarding and then seize that skateboard for 15 days, is a constitutional violation," he said.
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