By RENEE FITE
In generations past, a community center served as the heart of a neighborhood, the hub for social gatherings, benefit dinners, school functions and entertainment.
In rural Oklahoma, many towns still maintain active community centers or have built one in recent years. Recently, folks living in Welling, Eldon and Briggs decided to join forces to build a center to serve all three communities.
The 150-member Tri-Community Association WEB – for Welling, Eldon and Briggs – has raised more than $9,000 since October for the project, said J.R. Sellers, president.
“Our logo is a dreamcatcher with three feathers hanging down, one with a W on it, one with an E on it and one with a B, for Welling, Eldon and Briggs,” Sellers said. “[To raise money], we’ve had music shows, dinners, turkey shoots, bingo, and auctions. We’ve done a little bit of everything.”
The community center will be built on South 580 Road, south of Sellers Auction Barn.
The group has filed the proper papers and is waiting to receive its 501(c)3 nonprofit status.
“We’ve been notified it should be here in the next 90 days,” Sellers said. “We’re [building the center] for the elderly and young people alike. I’m elderly myself. I plan to spend leisure time playing dominoes.”
The center will have a nutrition program to feed senior citizens, too.
“[Members] can have weddings, social gatherings and accommodate family reunions,” said Sellers.
Plans feature an auditorium, classrooms, a fitness room and showers in the restrooms. Classes will include computer instruction, quilting, Cherokee language, canning, health and fitness and some classes for children. Also in the works are game tables for dominoes, checkers and cards.
“People have already committed to donations of services, like teaching the Cherokee language,” Sellers said. “And we’ll have temporary living quarters and showers for people who might get burned out of their home.”
They’ll have a softball field, volleyball, a marble field, sanctioned horseshoe pitching and probably a stickball area, Sellers said.
Board members serving with Sellers are Tina Murphy, vice president; Heather Brown, secretary; Pamela Sellers, treasurer; and Lereen Neugin, member at-large.
“We had free kids movies and charged for concessions,” said Pam Sellers. “We plan to have a playground for the kids, and later on down the line, a walking trail.”
The group hopes to offer a fitness class in March.
“We’re going to have Fit Camp, and hold it at the Auction Barn for now,” Pam said. “After people get off work in the evenings, we’ll put a DVD on the big screen and exercise to oldies, Zumba or others.”
Donations are being accepted and are appreciated, said Pam.
“We’re keeping a ledger and have a bank account; we’re ready when the 501(c)3 gets here, around March,” she said.
According to J.R., the group is highly organized, with committee leaders in place. Nadine Rozell and Jessie Craig oversee dinners; Bill Murphy and Warren Brinker take care of the turkey shoots; Louise Murphy and Lereen Neugin are leaders of Bingo games; Dick Sellers and Ron Hamby cover music events; Ernestine Pumpkin and Ginger Glory are leaders over the Community Cookbook; Pam Sellers and Heather Brown are over kids’ movies; and leaders for horseshoes are Albert Ross and David Mallory.
The Tri-Community Association WEB plans to break ground and begin work on the foundation of the center in late spring or summer.