Carpenter Center opens doors with variety of programs and restrictions

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GERING, Neb. The Carpenter Center reopens their doors after almost two months of closure because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Center was closed for almost two months. As they reopened on May 4th, the gym and fitness centers can only have ten people at a time. Staff offers a variety of programs including free meals, tumbling and more. (Carpenter Center)

The Center closed their doors on March 16th.

At this time, the Center made the decision from the recommendation from the Panhandle Public Health District.

Staff did not feel that they were able to provide a safe environment for patrons at this time.

Once reopening on May 4th, patrons can start signing up for programs but there are restrictions.

During this time, businesses slowed down tremendously.

The Center uses public funding often so limited exposure and not bringing in revenue from their programs hurt the Center.

The Center had to even one of their biggest fundraisers of the year.
From now until further notice, there is only ten people allowed in the fitness room and ten in the gym at a time.

With programs, they are as follows;
• Tumbling summer classes are now available. Classes run all week with several different times and options available. Class size is limited as we are following the guidelines provided by Panhandle Public Health. Only seven people in a class. These classes are offered everyday from 8:00am to 6:00pm.
• Summer Lunch at the Carpenter Center. Lunches are FREE for any child 18 and younger. Lunches are available from 11:30am- 1:00pm. Lunches may be picked up by a parent/guardian for all children residing in the home. Child may pick up their lunch. Lunches will be Grab and Go. Please follow social distancing if there is a line. The Carpenter Center is also providing free lunches for the weekend-these lunches will be picked up on Friday.
• The Carpenter Center is gearing up for Summer Camp 2020 and they are looking forward to an exciting Summer of Service. Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, the Carpenter Center has re-structured camp. Camp sessions will be limited to 12 children each, with enrollment limited to the first 30 kids registered. Age groups are kids from Pre-K to those going into 5th grade.
• The Carpenter Center Community Meal Program is open to anyone. All you need to be is hungry. Call in and order your lunch to go if you have a tight schedule, or you are welcome to stay and lunch in the dining room. Hot, homemade and super reasonably priced. The Center was notified this week that they received a grant from United Way of Western Nebraska. A portion of this grant will be used to subsidize meals through the Community Meal Program. The Center is committed to assisting folks experiencing food insecurity, and encourage donations to sponsor meals for those that can’t afford them. The meals are $5.00 and $6.00 to go.
• Pickle-Ball: Limited Pickle Ball every weekday but Tuesday. 12:00pm to 3:00pm, two 90 minute sessions. Sessions limited to 10 players at a time, sign-up sheets available at the Center. This is a wildly popular sport, and the Center is hoping to expand all programs by June 1st.
• The Center is collaborating with Housing Partners of Western Nebraska in a variety of programs including a grant that Housing Partners recently received. This is a three year HUD grant for the ROSS Program, (Resident opportunity and self-sufficiency). Housing Partners has a dedicated coordinator, Kim Wells, who will work with elderly and disabled tenants. Examples of this program’s focus will be on tenants aging in place, food security, socialization, digital literacy, wellness, and resource referrals.

Executive Director Matt Carpenter says these programs are seeing good results in terms of signing up.

“That has been our biggest goal to get those kids back active,” said Carpenter. “We really saw a good first days of kids signing up. We were really encouraged by knowing that not only the kids need to be active but the parents also can use that time to get their kids out in the community and back to socializing as well.”

These businesses and organizations needs the help from the community to keep going.

“It’s really important to support small businesses,” said Carpenter. “A lot of us weren’t able to get federal funding or anything like that to help during the closures. It has a real struggle to get things moving along and have the facility ready to go once we reopened.”

From now until further notice, the Center is open Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 4:00pm.

Staff is taking extra cleaning precautions making sure the fitness room is cleaned twice a day. One time in the morning and one time in the mid-afternoon. All patrons will clean workout machines before usage and afterwards. The front lobby receives the most traffic and is cleaned twice a day. Doors are wiped down and sanitized along with bathrooms. The tumbling kids sanitize the equipment before and after classes.

To sign up for these programs, head over to the Carpenter Center or go on their website at

The Center is always in need of volunteers and sponsors.