LOWELL | After nearly 50 years in the business community and a rich tradition in volunteerism, Patricia Konyk and her Patricia's School of Dance may be all tapped out.
That hasn't stopped a loyal band of parents and students from launching a grass-roots effort to save the community fixture.
"I've got to give them credit," Konyk said of those organizing fundraisers on her behalf.
But they don't understand that bakes sales will not be enough, she said.
Tough economic times took their toll, Konyk said, but she always paid the Lowell studio's bills.
"Two years ago, the taxes went up to $18,000 for this building. ... I disputed it," she said.
Konyk's building at 136 Washington St., remodeled after a 2004 fire, went up for tax sale and was bought by someone in Kansas, she said.
"Why wouldn't you buy it? It has no lien," she said.
It took her by surprise it was sold. She said is was her understanding the property would not be part of the tax sale while in appeal. She has appealed the action.
Kristina Krenkel, Amy Dixon and Deanna Erb know all that, but are determined to press on with fundraising efforts to "save our school" with a Saturday bake sale.
They want to raise as much money as they can to help pay what is owed in back taxes and allow Konyk to keep the building and remain in business.
"She always thinks it's better to help everyone else," said Dixon, of Cedar Lake.
Her 9-year-old twin daughters have taken lessons for six years.
"Miss Pat is like family to us. It's so close-knit. You don't find that at another studio," she said.
Erb's 6-year-old twin daughters love coming to dance class from their DeMotte home.
"They're all her kids," Erb said of how Konyk regards her students.
Krenkel said her 8-year-old daughter was too shy to talk to anyone, but credits her classes with Konyk for making her the outgoing girl she is today.
"You can't get her experience anywhere else. I don't know if I can trust another teacher," she said.
Heather Chopps, of Hebron, is a former student whose three daughters are now second-generation students.
She believes Knoyk teaches far more than dance.
"I do not send my girls to her to learn to dance. I send them there to learn discipline, respect and unconditional love and acceptance. Miss Pat has truly changed the lives of thousands of students, not necessarily for the dance techniques learned, but, more importantly, for the confidence, self-respect and values," she said.
Tiny Rozek, of Lowell, has been involved with Patricia's School of Dance for 19 years as the parent of a 21-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son who remain students. She said Konyk cannot bring herself to deprive kids whose parents owe her money. For that reason, Konyk is owed thousands of dollars.
Konyk confirmed she has not raised her dance lesson prices in 10 years because she wanted them to remain accessible. She said more than $240,000 in dance lesson fees has remained uncollected during the past 40-plus years.