By Chasity Blair
The Asian Community and Cultural Center recently faced the challenge of moving to a new location within 30 days. The nonprofit has moved into a new home, but now it faces another test: finding money to pay for rent that has doubled.
On June 28, the center received notice that the building at 2635 O St. was sold. The center paid $1,000 a month with a month-to-month lease at the old address and had been there for five years. That lease meant lower monthly payments for an organization with financial stress, said CEO and executive director Sheila Dorsey Vinton.
Through word of mouth, the center found a new location at 144 N. 44th St., Suite A. With help from volunteers, furniture was moved and the new space was painted, re-carpeted and re-tiled.
Now the center is trying to find ways to pay the monthly $2,000 rent.
360-degree photos of the new space (click on “fisheye” to change the view):
The center helps refugees and immigrants in Lincoln by offering more than 20 different programs and special services such as tax preparation assistance, English language learning classes, citizenship classes, advanced writing classes, women’s groups and youth and senior programs. The center, which serves 700 to 1,000 people each year, opened its doors in 1994 to Asian refugees and immigrants as well as Asian Americans so that they could have a community space for education and a place to preserve Asian cultural heritage. It now helps people from all cultures and backgrounds.
All of the programs are funded through donations and grant monies. But when it comes to administrative costs like rent, very few grants cover those expenses.
“That’s going to be a challenge as we go forward,” said Daizaburo Shizuka, a member of the center’s board of directors. “Most of the grant money goes to implementing programs and staff hours. We’ll have to adjust the budget and increase fundraising to make up for the difference.”
The center doesn’t plan to increase the number of fundraisers, but has instead focused on making its fundraisers — like the recent Curry Clash — bigger, Shizuka said.
Despite the challenges ahead, the center’s staff is happy about the move.
“The advantages here are greater than any disadvantages,” Dorsey Vinton said.
The new building has have more usable space, over 20 new parking and no steep stairs, which allows seniors to move about the center easier. It also is located closer to two larger Asian communities. One of those has 40 to 69 Asian residents and the other has 92 to 143, according to 2010 Census data compiled by GIS and Human Dimensions, LLC.
Although the center lost about 200 square feet in the move, it gained a shared conference room. That additional space could mean additional programs in the future, Dorsey Vinton said.
The center has been in the new building for a few months, but the move couldn’t have been accomplished without the volunteers and donations from local businesses and restaurants, she noted.
Slideshow of volunteers remodeling and moving furniture into the new building.
Twenty volunteers from the center’s Karen youth group and its board helped move desks, computers, tables and other furniture to the new location.
Bryan Seck, a developer from Prosper Lincoln, Nebraska Wesleyan University students and others helped paint the new building.
Slim Chicken’s donated food for the volunteers and Union Bank and Trust donated chairs for the new office space.
“It’s really great when you have community support from banks and restaurants,” Dorsey Vinton said.