Thirty-two years ago, a small nonprofit seeing the absence of after-school programs for young people began life in a small closet at the local elementary school as the St. Michael Community Center. And from those humble beginnings, the SMCC has grown substantially in both the programs they offer and the number of families they serve throughout the entire Bay Hundred region of Talbot County.
In fact, after a few temporary homes, the St. Michaels Community Center took the bold step to lease an old warehouse in the historic district in 2009 to meet the growing demand for children programming, teen outreach efforts, and senior citizen support. And in 2015, the organization’s board made another courageous decision to purchase the 5,000 sq foot facility to create a permanent home for these vital services.
And while its location on Railroad Avenue was ideal, given its proximity to many of the families needing those programs, an old warehouse was still an old warehouse. In addition to the crude lighting and the lack of heat for many rooms, most of the facility was simply no match for the community’s growing needs for educational and nutrition programs.
Almost from the day the building was purchased, the SMCC board of directors knew that they either had to renovate what they had or once again start a search for a more appropriate facility. And after a careful evaluation of options, the leaders concluded that the Railroad location would be ideal if only funds could be raised to redesign the structure and expand its operational use.
So, with fingers crossed and with the help of old pros like the SCMM president and campaign chair, Langley Shook (who had led the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s fundraising efforts while serving as President), the board voted to launch the organization’s first capital campaign to fulfill that mission.
With a stated goal of $3.5 million, Langley and his volunteer campaign leaders thought there was a reasonable chance that the community would generously respond to the initiative. They were correct in their assumption. Almost $3 million has been raised in cash or government grants to date.
But what Shook and his team could not have imagined when the goal was set was the unprecedented disruption that the COVID pandemic has caused in the worldwide supply chain. Already hard costs have risen by over $400,000 since they began the quiet phase of their fundraising effort, and, as Langley notes in his interview with the Spy from last week, he and his colleagues are finding themselves in a race to finish the campaign before the second wave of price increases forces even more costs to the project.
The Spy talked to Langley about those challenges and his team’s determination to break ground as soon as possible on the innovative plan that architect Mark McInturff designed.
This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information or to make a donation to the St. Michaels Community Center campaign please go here.