Linda and Ron Crandall remember the Bethel Community Center, located at Port Ontario, as a community hub for residents of the greater Pulaski area. While growing up, they both attended square dances there a couple of times a month.
The building, built in 1848, holds a long history in the small town. But for many years, the center faced neglect. In 2009, Linda and Ron decided to step in.
“It was left unattended and unmaintained. It was used as a storage facility for about anything you can possibly imagine,” said Linda. “Doors were left partially open, windows were broken, and animals were inside. We decided we did not want the building to decay.”
Linda and Ron cleared the tall brush surrounding the structure and began renovations to bring the center back to life. They also held fundraisers and applied for grants. The center received a series of grants from the Greater Pulaski Community Endowment Fund to aid in the work. In 2015, a $3,500 grant funded a new two-tiered deck at the entrance. In 2016, $3,500 allowed members to repair the interior walls and install a handicap accessible and unisex bathroom. Most recently, in 2017, $3,000 was used to completely refinish the floor. The center now has gleaming hardwood floors to complement its original ornate aluminum ceilings.
The Pulaski community owns the center, but Linda and Ron, as well as other volunteers, have taken on the renovation project as their own. It has more than 100 members, each paying a $10 membership fee. On Labor Day weekend they held a successful lawn sale, making more than $1,500 in revenue for the center. The Crandalls hope it will be used for anything the community needs, including dances, parties, exercise classes and auctions.
“The response from the community has been positive,” said Ron. “There’s definitely a need for a building to hold those types of things in because we really don’t have anything else in town.”
The renovated center is expected to open soon. “We’re looking at as early as next spring or summer to finally be ready to have it open to the public, and it can be used by anyone,” said Linda. “It’s for the community.”
The Greater Fund is a union of gifts contributed by the people of the Pulaski community that makes grants to support programs and projects of importance to the area. Since its inception in 1992, the Fund has provided more than $315,000 in grants to benefit the Pulaski community. Learn more about the fund and contribute at cnycf.org/Pulaski.