PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A local business is celebrating its birthday while also giving back by launching a monthlong initiative to raise money for a popular children’s arts center.
In celebration of 30 years in business, Barresi Benefits Group is asking for the public’s help to assist in a fundraiser for the Wintergreen Arts Center. The center in downtown Presque Isle is undergoing a major renovation.
During the first 30 days in December, the company is looking to raise $3,000 through donations. Barresi Benefits Group then will match the donations dollar for dollar up to $3,000, with the hopes of raising $6,000 or more for Wintergreen Arts Center.
The center, a nonprofit organization, set up shop in the Aroostook Centre Mall in 2006. The center offers art classes, performances, and other popular seasonal events for children and adults. The facility has been a magnet for youth who have flocked to the facility to draw, paint, make gingerbread houses and decorate pumpkins.
Officials announced last November that the center would move to 149 State St.
Tony Burgess and Glenn Capp purchased the two-story State Street building last year and offered the WGAC a 10-year lease. Under the proposal, the WGAC will not have to pay rent for 10 years, and the building owners will pay the utilities for the entire term of the lease.
Ever since the move, the center has delayed most of its activities and concentrated efforts on fundraising to renovate and establish the new facility. A capital campaign was launched to secure $106,834 to accomplish the goal.
Nathan Berry, director of finance for Barresi Benefits Group, said Thursday that the center was chosen because it is a favorite of the staff.
“A lot of our staff have children who went there all the time when the arts center was open in the mall,” he said. “Now, we are seeing them working to create this better facility for our children, and we are in support of it. This is exciting, and there is a lot of excitement around the project.”
Berry pointed out that BBG has a wide customer base, and officials are hoping to secure as many donations as they can.
“We work with a lot of businesses and people and we are really hoping they are going to step up for this,” he said Thursday.
The new arts center will increase its handicapped access and will provide visitors with a quiet place to relax, read and write.
A “PlayHouse” will be used for small theatrical and puppet show performances, and a fully furnished art studio will be located in the rear of the building. The studio will feature a chalkboard or white board, easels, art supplies, a children’s gallery with a window seat and other equipment. Officials also hope to outfit the center with a snack bar, a landscaped walkway and other features.
Artwork created by visitors will adorn the walls.
The center is hoping to reopen in early January.
Berry said he believes that the company will reach its fundraising goal.
“I am optimistic,” he said. “I think a lot of people are behind this.”
You can send donations to the Wintergreen Arts Center, PO Box 1252, Presque Isle 04769. You can also donate online through PayPal at www.wintergreenarts.org. Reference “Barresi Benefits Group” on your check or online when you give. On Dec. 31, Barresi Benefits Group will deliver a check matching your contributions.
For information on Wintergreen Arts Center, visit www.wintergreenarts.org.