Senior Center mortgage paid off!

The Weiser Activity Center for Seniors, through generous community donations, was able to pay off its $197,000 mortgage. From left, board President Karen Hoffer, board Treasurer Linda Smith,and patron Norma Brown who came up with the Evelyn Stover Challenge, which netted the required funds for payoff. Photo by Philip A. Janquart.
Philip A. Janquart
Weiser community members achieve goal in under eight months
They did it.
 The $197,000 mortgage balance that was strapping the Weiser Activity Center for Seniors and threatened its very existence is now zero … zip … finie.
 It’s all thanks to generous Weiser community members who dug deep to support the cause. Only eight months into the Evelyn Stover Challenge, donors managed to whittle the balance down to approximately $42,000. 
 What turned out to be the last donation came just before Fiddle Week through an anonymous donor who wiped out the remainder, according to WACS board President Karen Hoffer and Treasurer Linda Smith, who both made donations themselves as well as other board members.
 “It has all been so exciting and I feel like I’ve been in a daze; it doesn’t seem real to me,” Hoffer told the Signal American last week.
 Smith feels the same.
 “I think when we get the title, it will really set in, but it’s hard to wrap your head around,” she said. “I mean, there were times when I sat in my chair going over things and had to tell Karen, ‘I don’t know if we are going to have enough to make the payment this month.’”
 Part of the senior center’s dilemma was the variable interest rate that, at times, spiked to over eight percent. Every month, the bulk of the $1,771.78 mortgage payment went to interest, meaning the senior center couldn’t make any significant ground toward paying down the principle.
 It also left little for congregate and home delivery meals, not to mention various repairs that seem to afflict the senior center on a regular basis, such as the $8,000 air conditioning unit that went out last summer.
 In addition, the senior center has been struggling to cover the cost of meals. Through the Area Agency on Aging, federal dollars pay $4.25 of the cost of each meal. The county chips in $6,000 annually, which translates into about $3 per meal, meaning only $7.25 of the $12 it costs to provide each meal is covered. 
 Administrators rely on donations to make up the difference, but there is no way to determine just how much will come in any given month.
 “They were just spinning their wheels,” said former board member and senior center patron Steve Cooper. “I think it was in 2008 when they built the center and since then, they’ve paid over a half million in interest. They never would have gotten that loan paid off.”
 Cooper was concerned about the senior center’s future and approached Hoffer and Smith about eliminating the debt once and for all.
 “The first thing we had to do was let people know about our problem,” he said. 
To that end, he visited the Signal American, asking how the newspaper could help, which came in a series of stories about their plight.
 The first story was published on Nov. 8, 2023, with the second coming on Nov. 29, which was an update about an idea hatched by Norma Brown, sister of Signal reporter Nancy Grindstaff, and a regular patron at the senior center. 
 Their late mother, Evelyn Stover, was highly active in Weiser and was known to be a very familiar and colorful character in the community. She was also a patron at the senior center and worked in many ways to support its programs, all the way up to her passing in 2015.
 “Norma was instrumental in getting this done,” Cooper said. “She came up with the idea on how to get donations.”
 In November 2023, Norma proposed launching the Evelyn Stover Challenge, which sought to inspire 197 of Weiser’s roughly 5,500 residents to donate $1,000 each.
 On one hand, it seemed like a long shot, an unattainable goal; yet on the other, both Karin and Linda felt that it might just work.
 “We paid mostly on the interest for years, but we weren’t getting any closer to paying off the mortgage,” Karin explained. “We’ve always wanted to find a way to do that, but nobody knew how to get it done. But after Norma told us about the Challenge, I just knew this was going to happen. Something told me that this is what we need to do.”
 The Signal American is mailed to subscribers in various parts of the country. After reading about the senior center, two families in California contacted Karin and made a combined $25,000 donation.
 “I almost dropped my phone,” Karin said. “Those families, their kids graduated from Weiser High School, but they all live in California now. They wanted to help us, but wanted to remain anonymous.”
 Karin, Linda, Steve, and other members of the board visited Zions bank in Weiser in November. Combined with several $1,000 donations, and some that were a bit smaller, the total mortgage payment came to approximately $32,000, according to Smith.
 “That was a heck of a way to start things off,” she remarked.
 Other donations started coming in and more mortgage payments, of $50,000 and over $25,000, were made at Zions Bank.
 The group also came up with an accompanying strategy, challenging past WHS graduating classes to donate.
 “The discussion has turned to classes that have graduated from Weiser High School and how we are all becoming, or are, senior citizens now. So, we are going to keep track of all the donations and what class they have come from,” Hoffer said in December.
 She added that the winning class would be awarded a class reunion dinner at the WACS for free.
 Now that the senior center mortgage has been paid off, the board can direct more of its focus on making repairs and/or replacing equipment.
 Both Hoffer and Smith said they are proud of the community and very grateful for its efforts.
 “There were so many people that helped us out and it was so amazing,” Smith said. “We had people step up to the plate, some that we never expected would. This town needs to be proud of what they helped us do.”


Signal American

18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
PH: (208) 549-1717
FAX: (208) 549-1718

Connect with Us