RUMFORD — The chairman of the board of the Greater Rumford Community Center said Thursday he’s optimistic about the center.

“I’m very excited about our future,” Gary Dolloff told the River Valley Healthy Communities Coalition at its meeting at the Rumford Public Library. “I’m more nervous about going before the selectmen to present my budget than I am putting the budget before the people to vote on.”

At last year’s annual town meeting, the GRCC’s operating budget of $138,100 was defeated and its summer programs request of $22,720 was rejected.

As a result, the GRCC created a fundraising committee called Save the GRCC, which held dances, rummage sales, bake sales, a Strong Man competition during the Rumford Pumpkin Fest and sold custom-made T-shirts.

Dolloff said he thinks defeat of the GRCC’s budget was due to a number of circumstances that occurred at the same time.

“During the time of the vote, there was the ‘Vote No’ people trying to get people to vote no on everything,” he said. “After our budget was taken down, I had a talk with some of the people with that group, and they told me they weren’t going after the Community Center. In fact, a lot of them have donated money to us. I think we just got swept up in all of that.”

In the end, he felt the budget defeat “was a good experience,” since it gave him the chance “to see the good side of people,” he said. ” People gave their money and time to keep this thing going,” he said.

Dolloff told the coalition the center’s membership goal is getting closer.

“We’re closing in on 200 right now,” Dolloff said. “I think we’re just a couple away from it. I originally said that my goal was going to be 250, and I’m still confident we can do that.”

Sandy Witas, program coordinator for the coalition praised Dolloff for his efforts.

“I’ve got to applaud you, Gary, for everything you’ve done. Not everybody would’ve stuck with something like this. I think others would’ve thrown their hands up in the air,” she said.

Dolloff said he’s “very passionate” about the GRCC.

“I’ve been with the Community Center for 25 years now,” he said. “Everybody has been affected by this building in the past. It’s been around for 103 years. People have a lot of memories of this building.”

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