RUMFORD — The Rumford Senior Center is being forced to find a new home by Oct. 1 after their rent was increased to an amount above their budget, center president Barbara Morse said.
The non-profit Senior Center, located at 50 Congress Street, announced Tuesday that they were searching for a new building to move into by Oct. 1.
Morse said that the Greater Rumford Community Center informed the Senior Center that their rent would be increasing to $1,000 a month shortly after the second budget vote on July 23.
“I mean, we could maybe afford $400 a month, maybe $500, but as a non-profit group, $1,000 is out of our reach,” Morse said Tuesday afternoon. “The fundraising that we do is enough to help us function right now, but it's not enough for the new rent. I don't know who they expect to move in here and pay that kind of money.”
During the annual town meeting on June 11, residents voted 785-684 to approve $4,000 for the Rumford Senior Center, which was down from the $6,400 request they had originally submitted to the Board of Selectmen.
“We're looking for a facility that is handicap accessible, has plenty of room and has a good amount of parking,” Morse said. “That's our main concern, in terms of what we want for our building.”
Morse, who has been with the Senior Center since February 2012, added that moving would be especially frustrating, since they have just begun their bi-weekly public luncheon, where they invite the public to visit and have a lunch.
“I'm concerned about losing the kitchen,” Morse said. “All of these new events we're doing, the luncheon and the ice cream social, are dependent on the kitchen. It's something else we'll be looking for in a potential replacement building.”
The Rumford Senior Center, according to treasurer Marjorie Johnson, has a membership of 170 people, with many non-Rumford residents attending as well.
“We don't exclude anybody from outside of Rumford from becoming a member,” Johnson said. “We have people from Farmington, Peru, New Sharon and Dixfield attending the center. I'm a Hartford resident myself. The Senior Center closing would leave a lot of people without a place to visit.”
Morse said that during an event at the Senior Center, an average of 20 or 30 people will show up, with upwards of 50 when a musical guest performs.
Morse added, “If we can't find a place by Oct. 1, our doors will be shut and locked, and there will be no more luncheons, no more bingo, no more ice cream social, no more place for the seniors to go. When people come here, they sit in for a few hours, socialize and interact with other people. It's a great meeting place.”
Morse said that nothing would have been possible without her “group of volunteers,” who have invested a lot of their own time and money to keep the Senior Center running and growing.
“When I first started here at the beginning of 2012, membership was 86 and going down,” Morse said. “It was due to a lack of management and teamwork. It really does take a team to run this place, and I am very fortunate to have a wonderful group of people who volunteer. None of us get paid to do this. We do this on our own.
“I kind of see this thing as my baby,” Morse said, “and it hits me really hard, thinking that it could be shut down.”