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Group eyes old church for youth in Glassport

| Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Eric Slagle | Daily News
Deena Thomm, Dave Kowalski and Donna Nolder are part of a group that is trying to revitalize the Glassport Youth Center at Delaware Avenue and Seventh Street. The building is used for school athletics but the group hopes to add arts and crafts, games, movie nights and other activities.
Eric Slagle | Daily News
These volunteers from Glassport Crime Watch and the parks and recreation committee say need are needed to help them expand hours and programs at the youth center.

If you go way back you may know it as Glassport's old Holy Cross Church.

Many younger residents of the borough know it as the Glassport Youth Center even though they may not be aware of all the potential the facility holds.

Located at the corner of Delaware Avenue and Seventh Street, the old church has served as a center for sports and other activities on and off for years.

Now a group of borough residents are looking to expand programs and hours at the center.

“We're looking to open this hall up for kids to participate in organized activities,” said councilman Dave Kowalski, who serves on the borough's parks and recreation committee. “We want to get kids off the street.”

There are already athletics groups from South Allegheny School District using the facility for training on a regular basis.

The old sanctuary area on the upper level of the building is set up for basketball and hardwood court games. The hope is the lower level can be put to better use.

The borough is in the process of replacing old beat-up tables and chairs with new ones so games and arts and crafts activities can be offered. Dance classes, movie nights and kickball are a few other activities being discussed.

There are about 10 volunteers working to rejuvenate the center. Many have come forward through involvement with Glassport Crime Watch. Glassport Assembly of God Church has been a source of volunteers.

Though the volunteer pool trends toward middle aged and older there are a few involved who are under 30. Kowalski said he sees the younger volunteers as key to the success of the center because they are more in touch with today's youth.

Savannah Taylor, 28, said she signed on as a volunteer because she has a daughter who is almost 2.

“I want her to grow up in this town and have the same memories and experiences I did,” said Taylor. “We want (kids) to have constructive things to do.”

Another volunteer Kat Werner, 23, said she feels a connection to the center. When she was about 9 years old, “I used to play basketball here at night,” she remembers.

Deena Thomm, Kowalski's daughter, said there needs to be more volunteers involved if the center is to thrive.

“We stress that every day. Nothing happens if they don't start participating,” she said.

To be part of the center, adults must have state Act 33 and Act 34 clearances. In order to participate in activities at the center, children must first register at parks and recreation activities which are offered periodically during the year.

There are basketball courts outside the center that are year-round.

Anyone interested in joining the center as a volunteer can contact Kowalski through the borough office or by sending an email to gprcommunity@yahoo.com.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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