A $940 donation has renewed hope in the effort to save the old Hope gymnasium.
Now community officials are challenging local businesses to keep the momentum going -- before the effort is buried once and for all.
Jeff Yarnell, the Community Center of Hope's board president, said he was approached in the summer by the Royal Neighbors of America, a philanthropic organization that had heard about the community's idea to repair and renovate the dilapidated, leaky gym near the town square. He said he explained to a local-chapter representative the value a renewed facility would bring to the community, which launched talks between the Royal Neighbors and its parent organization.
The local chapter donated $470, the parent organization matched it, and the combined check was awarded Tuesday.
Yarnell said he was thrilled to get the money; however, the effort still has raised less than $2,000 of the $50,000 it needs just to replace the roof. He said that if the community can get behind the project financially, the gym could still return to prominence.
"We're not giving up," he said.
The gym was built during the Great Depression as part of the old Hope Town School and is owned today by the Community Center. It has been used as the home of the Hauser Jets and the Hope Red Devils, and for pickup basketball games and donkey basketball fundraisers.
Royal Neighbors of America, based in Rock Island, Ill., has more than 200,000 members and more than 200 chapters nationwide, according to the organization's website.