Spark! Community Center’s 2021 – 2022 Annual Report
We had an exciting year at Spark! Community Center after a yearlong shutdown. We went virtual with our programming in the beginning of 2021. We reopened in a new location in June 2021 with a yearlong soft reopening. We have been a drop-in Center with daily programming three days a week for 5 hours a day. Over this past year we have seen some of our past participants, as well as newcomers utilizing our new welcoming space. We look forward to many more returning in the future. It has been an honor, a fantastic opportunity, and my pleasure to lead Spark! Community Center through our second year of a pandemic. My favorite part has been getting to know all our participants, their families and/or mentors and our awesome volunteers.
Staff- We had a change in staffing in the fall of 2021, when our friend/mentor and co-worker Merrie Hedges left to pursue other opportunities. We were sad to see her go, but excited for her at the same time. We found our newest employee, Shelly Hudson, to serve as our Program Coordinator. Shelly has an extensive background in nonprofit organizations, especially in the theater arts. While the center is open Shelly is the face of in person programming. We are so excited to have Shelly on our team.
Board Leadership – This year we welcomed two new Board of Directors, Barbara Klocek and Kim Hartell. We are thrilled to have these ladies join our Board. Each of them brings their unique skills and experience to us at a perfect time as Spark!’s growth continues. The Board of Directors held a retreat in January 2022 that created a yearlong strategic plan to continue our growth goal. We are continuously working on this plan throughout this year into next.
Programming – Online program has been hosted 10 times a week, two times a day, five days a week by Jenny Kobbs and John Fenley. Our most popular class is our Monday nights Virtual Road Trip tour around America. The second favorite is Story Crafters on Friday mornings where they are hoping to turn this series into a book publication. We have also offered in person programming at the center. Classes include an Arts Creation Corner, a Music and Dance, SNAP Life Skills (Specific Natural Activity Program curriculum, and a Spark! Player’s theater group (which we hope will bring back a Spark! play in the future). Please check our website and Facebook page for all these in person and online classes and sign up for the ones you like.
Friday Fun Nights – I am so happy to announce that Friday Fun Nights came back in person at the Center in the fall of 2021. With bringing some dinners back as well in the winter of 2022, starting with our monthly movie and pizza night. In the spring of 2022, we have started offering two to three dinners a month at these events including a soup night, sandwich platter evenings and a pasta night. We are looking forward to our summer barbeque to celebrate Spark! Community Center’s 8th birthday at our annual meeting in June.
Participants – Please let us know how we can help you learn about something new, or if you would like to be part of a group doing something together. I have had some requests for a Men’s Group and Ladies Group, so we are in the process of finding volunteers to host these groups. We currently have a survey on our Facebook page, as well in our Spring newsletter we are looking to have everyone fill out to get your feedback. The most important thing we would like to know is on what days and at what times would you be available to participate in our classes at Spark!?
Fundraising Highlights – The annual quilt raffle for 2022 has started and this year’s lucky winner will be drawn at our holiday party in December. This is generously spearheaded by Madeline Boughter, Rita Tingle, and Colleen O’Neil. Once again ladies thank you so much for creating such beautiful quilts every year and supporting Spark! We couldn’t do this important work without you. The 2021 quilt raffle raised $1,885.00, and our lucky winner of the 2021 Scrappy nine-patch made with love was Gisela Jones. Thank you, Adelle Patch, for making and donating this quilt to our 2021 quilt raffle.
Spark! Community Center did not hold its annual Golf Tournament in the summer of 2021 due to COVID, however we did participate in the 2021 NH Gives (48-hour platform) in June through NH Center for Nonprofits where we raised $1,300.00
Our winter 2021 annual appeal has brought in $40,000.00 with a gracious $10,000.00 match from the Jack & Dorothy Byrne Foundation. Our Spark! team wants to thank Mrs. Byrne for being one of our biggest donors and supporters every year. We are so grateful for your foundation and work that you do for so many in the Upper Valley. Our other winter fundraiser at the Lebanon Poker Room in February 2022 raised an additional $3,200.00. Our spring 2022 dance fundraiser brought in another $1,200.00.
Spark! Community Center applied for eighty-five grants throughout this past year. We received around forty percent of what we had asked for. This brought in another $60,000.00 throughout the year. Also, this year we continued to draw upon monies received from past federal COVID relief grants.
High-Five Awards – We would like to recognize all our awesome volunteers throughout the past year. These include Angie Wright our fantastic volunteer that always steps up and helps put whenever there is a need. Allison Flint on our Events Committee and FFN events, Rekha Varrier who has joined us both virtually and in person for FFN events while teaching us about her cultural background. Ryan Clauson, our music guru who has had some jamming sessions with us. Rita and Bill Tingle who have helped us with some of our events throughout the past year, as well as through their family foundation donation and quilt raffle. Madeline Boughter for spearheading our yearly quilt raffle with Rita and Colleen O’Neill. We also want to recognize Sandy Warner for her yearly donation of a quilt to one lucky participant every year. Our biggest heartfelt thank you to this year’s 2022 Spark! High-Five Award recipients.
In closing, we at Spark! Community Center are filled with deep gratitude for a year of reconnecting with all our participants and community while reopening back up to the public during a two-year long pandemic. It has been fantastic to offer our welcoming space to everyone from our past and those newcomers that have come in wanting to build a sense of community again. I am looking forward to our upcoming new year ahead where we will be out in the community as much as possible and hopefully opening a few more days a week this late summer or fall.
With deepest appreciation.
Melissa Valcourt, MSLD – Executive Director
59 Hanover Street #4
Lebanon, NH 03766