AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — After years of transition, the Amarillo Senior Citizens Association (ASCA) continues to look for its permanent home.
This comes after the association was at the downtown campus of Amarillo College for nearly five decades. Since they moved from that space in September 2020, the association was temporarily located at a building at 4801 Austin, which was lent to them by the Wesley Community Center.
After recently moving from that space, ASCA’s new location is now the building which previously housed the IDK Sports Bar and Grill, located at 1301 Sixth Ave, which is located just a few blocks from the building the association purchased from Potter County in December, located at 2404 Sixth Ave.
Barbara Cromer, a member of the association’s board, said after ASCA purchased the building from the county, they had to gut it and get asbestos out of it. At that point, she stated the association did not have the money to build on the inside of the building.
Once the association was undergoing that situation, the building which previously was home to the IDK Sports Bar and Grill came available, which Cromer said was a godsend.
“This building came available and it already had a commercial kitchen. Even if we had the money to build the other building like we needed it to, that might have taken up to two years and we had nowhere to exist for those two years,” she said. “…It is the best thing that ever happened… just like when the church offered us their building for that time at no rent. We still had to pay our employees and utilities and things, but that was a godsend. This is also a godsend because… we are here. We are functioning. A lot of our members are coming back.”
But even with the new home, the association continues to raise funds, to either maintain their current place or begin the indoor renovation of the building they purchased from Potter County. Jennifer Jones, the executive director of ASCA, said the increase of costs related to construction during the pandemic has brought the price tag for the project up to approximately $2 million.
Jones said that the ongoing pandemic has hurt ASCA in many ways, including being shut down twice as well as hurting the association’s fundraising efforts for maintaining its operational costs.
“We lost 40% of our membership because of COVID. It’s a high-risk age group,” Jones said. “Also, wearing masks for them is difficult. They have COPD or emphysema or asthma or on oxygen… It’s hard for them to get out so of course, our membership dropped off because of COVID.”
While the association continues to do grant work, Jones said fundraising for the association is nonexistent, getting by with the association’s savings account, its membership dues and private donations.
Moving forward, officials with ASCA are hoping that the city of Amarillo would be able to help the organization maintain its status.
According to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com, the city is expected to receive more than $42 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan act through the U.S. Department of Treasury. The city has stipulations on what these funds can be used for, including assisting small businesses, nonprofits, or aid impacted industries as well as providing proper pay for workers performing essential work during the pandemic, or infrastructure investment.
ASCA officials have previously asked the city in various public comment situations to use some of the funds from the American Rescue Plan to fund the association’s new location. Officials with the city of Amarillo told MyHighPlains.com that they are waiting on guidance from the Treasury Department in regards to some of the city’s American Rescue Plan funds going towards ASCA.
Cromer said she believes the association’s mission is still vital to Amarillo, providing activities and meals to members of the city’s senior citizen population.
“Just knowing that you have somewhere to go, friends you can be around and things you can do is a tremendous blessing, especially to the elderly, but really to anyone,” she said.
Richard Bailey, the president of the pool club for the association, said the association needs funding to continue to make an impact on the community. Without help from a bigger entity, he said the association is not going to exist any longer.
“We just need simple things. We don’t need a lot of showboating or anything else,” he said. “We have all the equipment, if we just add a place to keep it going. That’s all we really need: some funding to keep us going without having to worry about it every month.”
For more information about the Amarillo Senior Citizens Association, visit its website.