Weekend: The Donald Heiter Community Center on the way back | Local News

LEWISBURG — Peaks and valleys were expected in 2022 as the Donald Heiter Community Center (DHCC) recovered from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Andrea Tufo, executive director of DHCC, said interns and volunteers were being called and lined up again for service. Programs for all ages have also been introduced or reinstated.

“We will be starting a wellness program which will include yoga and meditation,” Tufo said. “It’s launching here in mid-February. It’s aimed at all ages and will include kids’ yoga and ‘Mommy and Me’ stuff or parent and kid stuff.”

Tufo said teenagers would also be welcome as they might need a sense of mindfulness and learn some wellness techniques.

The summer installation of new HVAC systems in a number of Lewisburg-area school district buildings meant that DHCC’s summer camp programming had to accommodate what could be an increased number of students. Tufo said other summer camps in the area were preparing for a similar bump.

Tufo said the DHCC is growing within its means, but aware that there may be a drop in revenue.

“With the pandemic, businesses aren’t as healthy as they could be,” Tufo said. “Their tax structures are a bit different, so our revenues are going to have a bit of a recession.”

According to Tufo, DHCC revenues could change, not only in the coming year, but also in the years to come.

There could be a lag in giving for a period, during which challenges for nonprofits persist. Among them, Tufo cited rising prices for many items and paying competitive salaries despite declining donations.

It has formed a backdrop to deliver quality programs at affordable rates.

“For 10 years, economists have been saying that a major leap to reach a living wage for everyone is going to be fantastic five years from the time that leap happens,” Tufo said. “During those five years, people are going to spend money paying down their bills, upgrading their cars, upgrading their homes, going on vacations and then they’ll start giving.”

DHCC still has access to AmeriCorps volunteers. AmeriCorps Susquehanna member Ethan Russell is among those who have served at the center.

Russell, of Milton, was encouraged to join AmeriCorps by Mark Artley, a fellow volunteer. Artley taught online classes at DHCC and took care of other duties.

“It really is like family to me,” Russell said. “I learned a lot of life lessons during my time here. I couldn’t be happier.”

Russell said he was busy preparing for the Chocolate Tour and related events. His regular shift also sees Russell helping out with the after-school program.

“It’s been beneficial,” Russell said. “It opened up different perspectives (where) I might want to kill myself in the future, like helping children and their needs.”

While considering criminal justice training upon joining AmeriCorps, Russell said his after-school experience led him to consider a career in education.

Tufo, who began serving the DHCC as an AmeriCorps volunteer, said she also entered the service with a clear plan of what she wanted to accomplish. However, these aspirations were revamped just six months later.

Tufo added that a 2020-21 audit was recently returned, with an auditor’s note indicating the center was in good condition for a pandemic nonprofit center. Tufo credited a healthy participant base.

In the meantime, Tufo has encouraged the use of the DHCC public Wi-Fi network. His signal was usable day and night from the center porch. She also credited Mike Glazer and Dan Greak for redoing a front door with brighter lighting.

For more information on DHCC, 100 N. Fifth St., Lewisburg, visit www.donadlheiter.org or call 570-524-5000.

Jill E. Washington