Community center gets creative to accommodate big increases in programming –

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It looks very different these days when you walk into the Pat Porter Active Living Center in Steinbach.

This is especially true when you compare it to the silent days during the height of the pandemic.

Executive Director Audrey Harder says there is so much more going on at the center, they have run out of space.

“We’re in the process of looking to build an addition,” she says. “We have so much more to give, and so much more we can do, we’re just out of space.”

Harder says they are now offering increased programming, attendance has steadily increased, and the center has every intention to continue growing in order to meet the needs of the community.

“Our programming has gone from up to two to three programs a day, we now have up to 10 some days,” she notes. “We have evening programming, we have some on weekends, we have different things happening.”

Harder says they offer quite a variety of programs; from physical activities such as badminton, pickleball, and yoga, to hobbies such as quilting, crafts and cards, to musical events such as square dancing and choir. Featured events this month include Culture Days and their annual fundraising banquet.

Space is also used by groups who offer different types of support, such as the Alzheimer’s Society of Manitoba, Meals on Wheels, Band of Colors, support groups for brain injuries as well as Parkinson’s.

Steinbach ACCESSible Transit also operates out of the Pat Porter Active Living Centre. Harder believed this transportation program played a key role in the growing number of people coming to visit the center and joining some of the groups.

She says they also want to make sure there is affordable space for many of the smaller community groups who do not have their own building. Harder says, to keep this momentum going, they need to expand the center.

Opening the doors to the community, that is only one reason for growing. Harder says they have also opened their arms and hearts to make sure everyone and every group feels welcome and supported.

Bill Richards is Vice President of the Board of Directors. He strongly believes Harder is responsible for bringing together a staff team and volunteers who believe in creating this culture of welcoming and valuing everyone. Richards says that culture reflects our bigger community, and he appreciates the friendships that are developing at the Pat Porter Active Living Centre.

As for expansion, Richards is part of the committee that is gathering information from the city as well as builders. He says there is a lot of excitement as they see the need to grow.

The center is located in a corner lot and there does not appear to be a lot of space to expand. Harder says they are exploring the feasibility of removing the old huts that are situated along the west side of the centre, possibly replacing them with a permanent addition.

She says there are many questions to be answered and the expansion will take some time as well as money. Both Harder and Richards say the expansion really needs to happen so they can continue to be an effective support for the community of the Southeast.

For now, Harder says they are working with other community groups to make the most of space within our community. For example, swapping space to make the best use of the different size requirements for groups and events.

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