But thanks to a $5,000 grant, the 25 or so children who take part in the program each school year will do so again this year.
“We would not have been able to ... we just didn’t know where the money was going to come from to pay the help and buy the food,” Holloway said.
Holloway, director of the non-profit Community Enabler Developer, which runs the center, had only thanks for the grant, which boosted a program that’s suffered from years of declining donations.
“I’m just thankful to God for it,” Holloway said.
The $5,000 grant from the Susan Artemis Spector Wisminiti and Connor Jacob Wisminiti Memorial Fund was paid through the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama. The fund was established by Dr. Daniel and Esta Spector to support child development programs.
“The Sable Center, as everybody knows, struggles to stay open,” said Eula Tatman, vice president of grants, scholarships and initiatives at the foundation, and so the fund selected the center as a recipient.
The center needed $9,000 for a new heating and air conditioning system, Holloway said, and the Calhoun County Commission agreed June 13 to pay that cost.
During the summer, the 50 students enrolled at the center receive two meals and a snack every day, but it’s more than a place for kids to stay while their parents work, explained the center’s manager, Ida Adams.
Adams said a staff of paid and volunteer workers make sure homework is completed during the school year, and that students don’t lose critical reading and math skills over the summer.
The center accepts children from any part of Calhoun County, charging only whatever the parent can afford to pay, Adams said.
Hobson City Public Library director Donna Ross spent Wednesday morning at the center testing children’s reading skills. The children will then be given individualized workbooks and instruction to boost those skills.
She’ll test them again at the end of the summer as a way to gauge the effectiveness of the center’s instruction. The process will also help the center receive grants in the future, Ross explained.
“When you’re applying for a grant, if you can show that what you’re doing is either keeping them level or is having an increase,” Ross said the chances of receiving that grant increase.
Adams echoed Holloway’s gratitude for the donations.
“It was a blessing. I don’t know if it was in disguise or not, but it was a blessing,” Adams said. “I can’t say it enough. It was really needed.”
At a cost of about $46,000 each year to run, the center will surely have struggles in the future, Holloway said, and more donations are still needed, but “let’s take it one step at a time.”
Speaking with a worker at the center, Holloway said it’s important to let the community know about the positive things happening there “so they can help us. If we don’t, those doors are going to be closed.”
Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.