Lake Forest’s Gorton better financial footing
Gorton Community Center's Executive Director Brenda Dick shares a book with Collin Lucas (from left), Zoe Floriani, Lucy Earls and Alex Landen at the Children's Drop-In Center. | Michelle LaVigne ~ Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 30, 2012 8:44AM
LAKE FOREST — After almost closing in the summer of 2010 due to budget shortfalls, the Gorton Community Center appears to have successfully rebounded.
Mark Ventling, chairman of the Gorton Commission, presented information about Gorton’s current fiscal situation at the Lake Forest City Council meeting on Nov. 19. By most measures, things are looking up. Ventling reported that Gorton’s cash balance is up, revenues from services the center offers are up 7 percent and fund raising continues at a brisk pace.
Ventling stressed that fund raising is a critical part of Gorton’s budget and comprises a sizeable chunk of the center’s revenue. One of the goals for 2013 is to step up fund raising even more. To aid the process, Gorton is in the process of hiring a part-time Director of Development.
Other goals cited by Ventling were offering more programs and services, increasing profitability and restarting investment in capital improvements. Gorton was last renovated 12 years ago and now needs about $120,000 of interior work.
Having opened as a community center in 1972, Gorton is one of a select few centers in the United States that is privately funded. No property tax dollars or public money of any kind from the City of Lake Forest or Village of Lake Bluff goes to Gorton.
Executive Director Brenda Dick has been leading Gorton since January 2011 and cites residents’ strong commitment to the community hub as the primary reason it has survived and thrived.
That commitment, Dick said, comes in the form of financial contributions and volunteers, who perform many critical functions.
“It’s extraordinary, the time they give,” Dick said.
One example Dick cited is the center’s new website, which volunteers were instrumental in setting up.
“Our volunteers don’t just go to meetings,” she explained. “They are actually here, sleeves rolled up, doing the work.”
That goes both ways, Dick said, as residents are directly involved in center governance. As a result, they have a strong voice in asking for new or expanded programs they would like to see at Gorton.
One example of a new program is a partnership with the enormously popular Chicago early childhood education center, Bubbles Academy. Lake Forest residents’ children can now enjoy their classes several times a week.
Dick said that there also have been expansions to the technology classes Gorton offers, ballroom dancing classes and more.
For more information on Gorton Community Center, visit www.gortoncenter.org.