The coronavirus/COVID-19 global pandemic has, in one way or another, affected nearly every person in the community, the nation and the world.
Local community centers, important places where people connect and weave together the fabric of society, have been hard hit with the mandated closures.
The Carrillo Recreation Center is by far the busiest of the city’s facilities, and it has canceled all of its outside rentals and programs, which include nearly 70 classes a week for dance, fitness and martial arts.
The Louise Lowry Davis Center held weekday activities, including senior lunches, that also have been eliminated during the stay-at-home order. The spot is used for community food distribution in partnership with the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County and the Community Action Commission.
“We have a skeleton crew working at a couple sites for emergency operations and normal business like paying bills and budget work,” Santa Barbara Parks & Recreation senior recreation supervisor Jason Bryan told Noozhawk. “Once the public gathering bans are lifted and nonessential businesses can resume, we’ll start reopening centers and activities.”
Also affected has been the Santa Barbara Elks Lodge #613 at 150 N. Kellogg Road in Goleta.
“We closed our dining room and bar on March 15,” board chairman Roger Aceves said. “As a result, we had to furlough nine employees. It broke my heart. We have a minimum staff of three people in the office, and we have sufficient funds for that.”
On a monthly basis, the lodge served 20-plus lunches; offered five nights of bingo, four Friday night dinners and four lodge meetings with dinner; and hosted more than 20 other rentals and programs.
“The median age of our 1,100-plus members is 71, so it is important that our members stay home. But they miss out on the social interaction and the low cost of our meals and activities. The closure has had a big hit on our budget,” Aceves said.
One thing that the Elks have addressed during the closure is expanded use of their small RV parking area.
“We have space for 18 rigs,” Aceves said. “We have cut that in half to accommodate social distancing and have opened up the RV lot to first responders who need a place to stay. We already have a medical first responder who is now living here. The City of Goleta has extended our conditional use permit so we can offer this housing alternative to the front line personnel fighting the pandemic.”
Another nonprofit organization facing the toll of the shutdown is the Page Youth Center, which closed in March.
“I have been involved in the Page Youth Center since I was a kid,” board president Clay Holdren told Noozhawk. “We serve 2,000 kids. Our basketball program alone has 830 youth athletes. Luckily, we just finished the basketball season when we had to close. We have zero income. Our major fundraising event, Casino Royale on May 16, had to be canceled. The board had to furlough one person and all the coaches. We have two directors who are working minimally to safeguard the building. It is very tough.”
Holdren, who also has seen the financial effects at his restaurants such as Holdren’s in Santa Barbara, said the center really needs the public’s help, and a donations page has been set up on the website.
“So many people have used this facility over the years,” he said, “and we hope that they will remember us now.”
— Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.