Grant, fundraiser to help pay for new gym floor
Bob Patterson doesn't know how old the gymnasium floor is at Sewickley Community Center, but, he said, he does remember roller skating on the same floor when he was child.
Thanks to a Sewickley Valley Community Fund matching grant and community center fundraiser, Patterson, 45, said the 3,000-square-foot, worn-out tile floor soon will be replaced with a new wood floor similar to what is found in most high school gyms.
The Community Fund awarded a $13,000 matching grant to the center after meeting with Patterson and community center board members several months ago.
Dwight Howes, a member of the fund's board of directors, said the board was impressed with everything the community center does to benefit the community, its leadership, vision for the future, the comprehensiveness of its outreach and dedication to youth and to others.
He said the purpose of the Community Fund is to award grants to projects that benefit all the communities of the Sewickley Valley, such as its support of community worker Floyd Faulker, who works closely with the youth programs at the community center.
Howes said the reason the fund awards matching grants is to make sure the organization it is supporting is serious about the project.
“And the community center raised its half of the money and even more,” Howes said.
Patterson said S&S Flooring will replace the floor in February or March, when the Quaker Valley youth wrestling season is over. The center is the home of the wrestling team, and they practice in the gym.
“At this point, we are having the gym walls painted and having some roof repair work done prior to installing the floor. We don't have enough money to paint the ceiling yet, but we're working on that,” he said.
The community center raised more than $13,000 from fundraisers such as a raffle for tickets provided by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The center also received a grant from the Clapp Family Trust, along with donations from individuals and organizations.
The gym also serves as a space for theater productions and round table discussions for the center's Juneteenth Celebration and art shows to display the work of the young campers who come to swim in a partnership with the Sweetwater Center for the Arts.
The center also gets calls from youth sports teams, organizations and clubs that need practice space or a place to hold skills camps.
“Mostly, it is for basketball, but we have also hosted soccer teams and gotten calls from volleyball teams,” Patterson said.
As far as future goals and activities, Patterson said in partnership with the Quaker Valley School District, Laughlin Children's Center and Youth Connect and with support from the Sewickley Academy and The Presbyterian Church, Sewickley, the center now is in the early stages of developing a mentoring program for black males in the Quaker Valley School District. Faulkner will lead the program.
In the future, Patterson said volunteers would like to see more improvements made at the center.
“The building is solid but very old and outdated. So it needs a lot of updating, repairs, refurbishing and renovating,” said Patterson, who has been involved with the center all of his life, as were his parents and grandparents when they were teens and young adults.
“The list is long. Mostly, we need to raise more funds so that we can continue to make improvements. We are making progress. and we are excited about it. But we have a long way to go.”
Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or firstname.lastname@example.org.