Sometimes, an old friend passes away unexpectedly. Maybe we had lost touch, but their death stings us still, and we think, “oh, if only I knew our time was so short.” The Danville community is about to lose such a friend, but if we want to, this friend can still be saved.

The Danville Area Community Center opened in 1986 and has been serving this community ever since. Like so many things, a combination of time and the COVID pandemic has done its damage, and within a month this amazing facility may cease to exist. In the past two years, the DACC has trimmed its expenses to the bone, but maintaining a pool and a large building is not cheap.

The DACC, unlike almost any other Community Center in Pennsylvania, receives no municipal support, and relies on generous donors and the membership fees of members to pay the bills. In the COVID era, who wants a gym membership? And the DACC is suffering and soon to be no more.

Yet, this amazing facility can still be saved, if the community remembers its special friend. Maybe the less fortunate members of our community, who receive “sponsorships” and are able to exercise, swim and socialize there at little or no charge? Maybe our seniors, who enjoy Silver Sneakers classes and other offerings tailored to their needs? Maybe all the children who learned from Mrs Perruquet and other teachers over the years?

Maybe the generations of children who learned to swim from Miss Jeannie, saving their lives or sending them on to swimming competitions? Or maybe the many people, like me, who have been members for years and only started to seriously exercise as the years added up? The community of Danville has benefitted from a wonderful place where our kids learned to swim, or stayed after school, or where we voted, or where our seniors found caring friends. Through almost 35 years, the DACC has been a friend who has greatly enriched her community, saving lives and creating memories.

I write this letter to ask for your help. A friend is suffering, and dying. Don’t mourn the DACC after it’s gone, and wonder “what if?” Please, get a membership, and come in now or in a few months. Make a donation, in thanks for gifts you or your family has received or to give the gifts to others.

Tell local leaders that this community center deserves to be supported and treasured. The DACC can survive. And if it does, it will save lives by encouraging exercise or teaching a child to swim.

It will give seniors a place to find activity, and friends, and caring. It will serve our less fortunate and lift them up to better futures. And it will enrich our community. Because the DACC is not just exercise and swimming and socializing and child care. It is a symbol, of a community that cares for its young, old and less fortunate. It represents the best part of ourselves, and our hope for the future.

Our friend is suffering. If this is the end, we will realize that we missed an opportunity. And too late, we will recognize that our lives, and our community, are so much the poorer for this loss.

The DACC has been a gift and a blessing to this community. Don’t mourn her passing. Celebrate the DACC, and allow her to serve another generation.

Herb Ingraham lives in Danville.

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