Two grants allow for construction of covered outdoor patio area

CRESTON — Creston is showing what can be done when a community works together. Case in point, the small town’s Community Center, known locally as CATCH.

Everyone agrees it is easier to refer to it as the Creston Community Center or CATCH which is short for Creston Activity Town Center Helping Hands Fund. 

“I wasn’t here when they came up with that,” explains smiling CATCH secretary Sheila Lyons, knowing that the full name is a mouth full.

The center is located at 5110 Swayze St. in Creston. It is in the same building that was previously occupied by Cal Fire and the volunteer fire department. It has become the hub of the community since opening in 2012.

“It’s one of the things that the community is proud of as a whole,” Lyons said. “A community center for Creston was a collective dream for over 25 years and is coming into its own.”

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Lyons, who moved to Creston 17 years ago, is more than just the secretary, she is also a capable grant writer, having spent many years as a research scientist.

“I was in academia for a long time and running the labs really depends on getting grants,” she said. “So I have translated that talent into helping the community.”

CATCH received two grants — one for beautification and another for infrastructure — totaling $15,500 that led to the construction of a large concrete outdoor patio with a metal shade structure. 

CATCH received $13,200 from San Luis Obispo County in July of 2018 and $2,500 from The Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County in January of 2019. 

“We were definitely elated, to finally think we can move forward on some of these ideas that we had down on paper for a while,” Lyons said of the group’s reaction to the grants.

The projects were completed just in time for the annual Halloween gathering at the Community Center. It was sponsored free of charge by the Creston Women’s Club and the Creston Volunteer Garden Club. More than 200 people came and grabbed a hot dog, baked goods and candy at the decorated Community Center while socializing with friends and neighbors and admiring each other’s costumes.

“It was great. We had families and children dressed up and having fun,” Lyons said.

CATCH Fund, Lyons explained, was formed in 1994 and is made up of seven local clubs and organizations: Women’s Club, Volunteer Garden Club, Community Association, Friends of the Creston Library, the Creston Advisory Body (CAB), 4-H Youth, Creston Classic Rodeo and the Volunteer Firefighters Association.

“All of these groups are committed, in addition to their own charters to the improvement of community life and facilities of the Creston area,” Lyons said.

CATCH obtained a long-term lease in 2012 from SLO County, after the building of a new Cal Fire station in Creston. The center is near the Creston Classic Rodeo grounds and is on the same property that is home to the Creston Community Demonstration Garden.

The Community Center has been used for activities and events such as memorials, holiday parties, clubs and homeowner association meetings, fundraisers, and celebrations. 

Since opening, there has been a concerted effort to make the necessary improvements to the property to make it a fully functional facility. Over the years, improvements include ADA bathrooms and outdoor safety lighting.

Plans include replacing the two roll-up doors while long-term goals will see adding central heating and air-conditioning and a functional kitchen.

“We have some grant applications that are turned in and have not been answered as yet. We are keeping our fingers crossed,” Lyons said.

The next major fundraiser for the center is the Cowboy Christmas Dinner on Dec. 14 that includes a silent auction and a dessert auction. Tickets are available by calling Donna at 805-610-1517.

With the community fully behind CATCH, Lyons knows their dreams will become reality.

“We are a small community but very enthusiastic about moving forward with this and making it fully functional,” Lyons said. “It’s all slow and steady.”