LEWISTON — When Jennifer Dube-Works’ time as fundraiser ends, she hopes the YWCA of Central Maine will be stronger.

She has been hired by the YWCA’s board to give its $1 million effort a boost as it crosses the halfway mark. Dube-Works wants more, though.

Before she leaves the paid gig, she wants to help the YWCA to better sustain itself.

“A 130-year-old organization has to keep changing,” she said. For her, that meant improving the way the YWCA connects with donors and rewards them for their help. She wants to build partnerships with local businesses and agencies that might benefit from a collaboration with the YWCA. And she wants never again to hear that the YWCA is closing.

“That was frightening,” Dube-Works said. “It impacts people, hundreds of people, every day.”

In August, sinking beneath unpaid bills, skyrocketing utilities costs and a $500,000 mortgage, leaders of the YWCA announced plans to close. Staff said tearful goodbyes and parents were alerted.

Dube-Works, a triathlete who trains at the YWCA pool, stopped in to visit after reading about the closure.

“The YWCA of Central Maine is where I keep my chi, my energy,” she said. Here, her kids learned to swim and her dogs learned to obey.

Four days after the closure announcement — after pleas from members and a sudden burst of donations — the YWCA Board of Directors changed its mind and withdrew its closure notice.

Since then, the agency has raised about $500,000. It has held crafting days, a used-car sale and a “swim-a-ton.” The YWCA has paid off $100,000 of its roughly $500,000 mortgage and is catching up on its debt to vendors. Money is also being set aside for upgrades to the building’s systems. The city of Lewiston has pledged $10,000 toward the completion of an energy audit of the building. Leaders are desperate to reduce the estimated 30,000 gallons of heating oil used each year.

Finding the remaining $500,000 of the YWCA’s million-dollar goal will be tough, Dube-Words said. Her past will help, she said.

Dube-Works worked for several years with Museum L-A as its development director, organizing events such as 2009’s Echoes in Time concert at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee. But she also sought donors. She’s familiar with foundations that might help. And she is a certified grant writer.

The skills are needed, YWCA President Lee Young said.

“We needed a little bit of expertise,” she said. “We want every chance to reach our goal. You can’t go on forever doing something like this with all volunteers.”

Young declined to say how much the agency is paying Dube-Works or how long the consulting will last.

“We’re paying her less than the market value,” Young said.

Dube-Works’ ties to the YWCA helped make her a strong choice, Young said. Besides her family’s use of the pool, Dube-Works began serving as an assistant coach for Lewiston High School’s swim team.

For Dube-Works, her biggest obstacle is time.

Some vendors are still waiting for their money. The building needs costly upgrades to improve its efficiency.

“We’re racing against time to get the job done,” she said.

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