ALTON - Thanks to a recent boost by two generous donations, the Senior Services Plus “Pathways to Wellness” Capital Campaign now has the muscle required to succeed.
On July 23, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, headquartered in Baltimore, donated $320,000 to cover the direct costs for the campaign. Fulfilling a promise to match the total raised by Senior Services Plus, Simmons Hanly Conroy, a national law firm headquartered in Alton, donated an additional $320,000.
“We are overwhelmed by the Weinberg Foundation grant award and the matching gift from Simmons Hanly Conroy,” SSP Executive Director Jonathan Becker said. “One year ago, SSP had just over $880,000 committed to the campaign. Today, we have just over $1.9 million. The funds raised along with these two gifts will take us over $2.6 million. It is truly a miraculous turnaround in one year.”
SSP is built on the foundation that a major component of healthy aging is access to affordable wellness. In 2007, it developed a low-cost alternative for individuals as they age to engage in preventative wellness activities. This strategic initiative, which modestly began with 24 pieces of equipment and 253 members, has grown into a fully functioning Wellness Center with more than 1,400 members, 54 pieces of equipment and 18 fitness classes operated out of four rooms.
The new, state-of-the-art 9,900-square-foot Wellness Center will include a 6,400-square-foot gym, indoor walking track and a 2,200-square-foot exercise classroom for group fitness classes.
“Senior Services Plus is a valuable resource for this community and some of its most vulnerable residents,” said John Simmons, Simmons Hanly Conroy Chairman, “The breadth of services they offer is invaluable, and it’s a cause we are proud to support.”
The donated funds will not only allow SSP to complete the construction project, they will also provide the opportunity to purchase all equipment furnishings, upgrade exterior lighting to solar lighting, and operate with no debt, something Becker calls “a blessing.”
“This is really a dream come true for SSP,” Becker said. “It’s a prestigious grant award, and we are grateful to be a recipient. This was essentially a three-year process from initial contact with the Weinberg Foundation until we had secured a contractor, and we were breaking ground before we were invited to apply. This has been a career highlight for me personally as it has been the single largest private foundation grant I have written.
“This is really the effort of a community; we are (just) fortunate enough to lead the project, one that will have an impact on the community for many years by helping to improve the quality of people’s lives.”
SSP will continue to offer affordable memberships to the community at $200 a year for ages 16 to 54 and $150.00 for those individuals aged 55 and older, with scholarships on a permanent basis for economically disadvantaged seniors.
The center is continuing to accept donations for the project. For more information and to donate, call (618) 462-3298.