The Van Buren Lions Club recently turned pancake batter into a $1,700 donation to the Center for Art and Education’s building renovation project.
The amount of the donation represents half of what the club made from its pancake breakfast held earlier this month.
A check was presented to the Center for Art and Education on April 10.
The idea to contribute to the renovation project came about a year ago when CAE Executive Director Jane Owen and Community Relations Manager Brent Gunnels were guest speakers at a Lions Club meeting.
“At that particular time we discussed making a contribution to them in the future,” said Lions Club member John Pope. “It just turned out that the pancake breakfast was the opportunity for it. They participated in the event with us and helped promote it and so it was a win-win for everybody.”
Dorvan Wiley, another member of the Lions Club, said the $1,700 “will help with the match,” referring to a matching grant CAE is working to complete to help in its efforts to fully renovate the building in Historic Downtown Van Buren that will serve as its new home when finished.
“This represents $2,700 we’ve given back to the community today,” said Wiley.
Earlier in the day the Lions Club presented a check for $1,000 for a historic panel that has been placed near the fountain at Van Buren’s Freedom Park.
It’s all part of how the Lions Club is striving to help its community, according to Joe McDaniel, who is the club’s president.
“We want to be active in the community any way we can,” he said, “and supporting this project will help revitalize downtown Van Buren and we’re all for that.”
Gunnels explained that the partnership with the Lions Club has benefited both groups.
“Working with the Lions Club means a lot to us because it shows we have this community’s support,” he said. “We love having another community entity that sees value in us and says, ‘You know, let’s come together and see what we can do when we get two great organizations working together.’”
While the Lions Club was able to raise money for a worthy cause through its pancake breakfast, the CAE was able to introduce some of its patrons — some who volunteered to help at the breakfast — to the club and its various endeavors.
“It really benefited both of us,” said Gunnels. “They were able to raise money to help with the new arts center. They got people in the door to learn about the Lions Club, people who had never been there before, and the arts center was able to share our information with people we had never been able to reach before. So it really is a great partnership and we’re hoping to continue that as we move forward.”
Gunnels said while the funds will get CAE closer to its matching goal, the organization still needs help to complete the project.
“We are very close to the match and this will be a part of that,” he said. “We got a $2 million matching grant, so we are supposed to raise $2 million. But the total cost of the building is close to $6 million. Once we have our match there’s still some fundraising that has to be done. So even when we do get that match there will still be opportunities to give more to help furnish the building and really bring it all together.”
Construction began earlier this year on the renovation of the building on Main Street.
“We will be in the building sometime in 2020,” he said. “If we are still working on that last million or so to complete the building we’ll do some things in phases. But it is happening. It’s started and now we’re waiting to see how far we’ll be able to go in 2020.”