As the year draws to a close, many in our community donate locally to individuals, clubs and organizations in need. The Price Center in downtown San Marcos would like to remind those who give that it needs funding, too. Since the early 2000s, the Center has been serving as a low cost, no cost community events and activity center. And now, more than ever, the Center needs financial support to continue doing so.
The Greater San Marcos Area Seniors Association (GSMASA), the non-profit that operates the Center, prides itself on meeting a variety of needs of an ever expanding audience of community members young and old, near and far. From daily lunch service in its Tea Room to regular, weekly classes and activities in its historic 1910 Room, 1893 Chapel, and Multi-Purpose Room, the Center provides a variety of venues and ways to enrich ones life in downtown San Marcos. As a non-profit, the Center funds it operation through dues from members of the GSMASA, private donations, grants and revenues generated from the rental of the various venues by private individuals, businesses and organizations.
Selfless gifts of time and money have been at the heart of the Price Center’s operation since the beginning.
For the first dozen years, Ron and Marie Jager built and led a team of volunteers that imagined and then personally created the Price Center. Over the past few years, the Center has begun to employ staff to assist with housekeeping, book keeping and, as of mid-2015, a paid executive director to assist and eventually take over for the Jagers.
“From the initial donation of the building more than 15 years ago to nearly $1 million in donated services, goods and furnishings since, today’s Price Center only exists because of the kindness of others,” said Clay DeStefano, executive director.
Today, increasing expenses -- including more and more required repairs and replacement of fixtures and equipment that are now more than 15 years old -- continue to present challenges to the organization in its efforts to offer a variety of free and low cost community events and activities within a series of historic structures – including one that dates back to 1893.
DeStefano hopes that the giving spirit of this time of year will inspire some to include the Price Center in their year-end giving. “Our numbers are up and that’s good and bad so to speak. While rentals and some of the ongoing programming generate revenue for the Center, sadly it’s not currently enough to cover our ongoing and increasing expenses,” DeStefano stressed.
Since its inception, the Center has served as a vital downtown resource, venue and intergenerational gathering place for a variety of individuals, clubs, organizations and efforts that otherwise might not happen. With downtown’s growth, it only stands that the Price Center must continue to do so.
Over the past year, more than 12,000 visitors stopped in for a meal or signed-in at an event, performance or class. Many have enjoyed several free events at the Center including the debut of the Heritage Association of San Marcos’ documentary “Memories of the Square,” 72 Degrees’ indoor showing of “Yakona” with live local accompaniment, and several of the Mermaid Society SMTX inaugural events, including the Mermaid Crown making event, two documentary showings and a talk on Mermaid Myths and Legends.
Free and low cost performance recitals, concerts, dance classes, discussion groups, group games, artists’ workshops and now rotating art shows all provide regular opportunities for individuals to gather and grow through the Center. New engagement activities continue to be added, including a new Little Free Library on the front porch, that, due to its success, has already expanded to include a “branch location” in the Lobby. In addition, the new 4th Flea monthly community flea market provides a free eclectic shopping experience each month and a low-cost venue for individuals and small scale vendors.
The impact of the Price Center has not gone unnoticed. The Center has received numerous awards and accolades through the years, including most recently being named Main Street San Marcos’ Downtown Legend Business of the Year for 2016.
“The Price Center helps to create and preserve community at a time we need it most. As rapid growth and development continues to threaten the pace and quality of life in downtown San Marcos, the value of the historic Price Center and its role in the local cultural and performing arts scene only increases,” said DeStefano. “Individual citizen help at this crucial time in our lifespan is essential.”
While the Center has benefited from a greater number of donations this past year, including a grant from the City of San Marcos, the Arts Commission and the recent in-kind donation of a sound system for the 1910 Room, needs continue to outpace the donations. For example, in addition to ongoing repair and renovations, the Center’s 15-year-old projection system needs to be replaced at an estimated cost of nearly $10,000.
No gift is too little or too big. Potential donors are encouraged to check with their tax specialist regarding deducting your donations. For more information about ways to support the Price Center, stop by the Center at 222 W. San Antonio, weekdays from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., call (512) 392-2900 or visit, www.price-center.org