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Group Will Announce LaRosa Club’s Reopening

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
July 07, 2021
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Tube City Almanac file photo)

A local non-profit comprised of former members, volunteers and employees of the LaRosa Boys & Girls Club will announce plans soon to reopen the facility.

At Wednesday’s McKeesport city council meeting, Councilman Jim Barry Jr. — a former executive with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania — said the LaRosa Youth Development Foundation expects to take possession of the property on Friday.

The club was abruptly closed in November 2020 by the Pittsburgh parent organization, which cited declining membership, rising expenses and a lack of participation by local youth.

The announcement set off a backlash from parents, city residents and elected officials, including McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko, state Sen. Jim Brewster and state Rep. Austin Davis, all of whom sharply and publicly criticized the move — and the leadership of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania.

According to Internal Revenue Service records, the new LaRosa foundation was chartered in 2020 and received its tax-exempt status in April 2021.

What was originally called the McKeesport Boys Club was founded in 1945 by Samuel R. LaRosa with support from prominent local business leaders, including the founders of the G.C. Murphy Co. The club established its permanent headquarters on Ravine Street in 1957. That building has since been expanded and modernized several times and now includes classrooms, a gymnasium and outdoor athletic fields.

The McKeesport club was compelled to merge with other Pittsburgh-area Boys & Girls Clubs in the mid-1970s.

Barry said the new group was established by former LaRosa club members and members of the LaRosa family “to continue the 76-year legacy of Samuel R. LaRosa, his wife Della, and their family’s commitment to unselfishly serving the youth of McKeesport.”

Programming is unlikely to resume until September, Barry said, and the leaders of the LaRosa foundation and city officials will announce additional details in the days and weeks ahead.

“I just want to say again thank you to Mayor Cherepko, Austin Davis and Jim Brewster,” Barry said. “Without them, we’re not having this conversation today and that club would be closed permanently.”

Cherepko, who participated in Wednesday’s meeting via telephone, said he is “very excited” by the progress, but wanted to refrain from making any additional comments.

“I will say it was a team effort on everyone’s part,” he said.

In 2020, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania also closed the Duquesne-West Mifflin clubhouse, another move that was criticized by parents and volunteers.

Following Wednesday’s meeting, Barry said that once programming is established at the McKeesport facility, the LaRosa foundation will look for ways to reach out to Duquesne and West Mifflin youth.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania has maintained some programming in McKeesport and Duquesne.

An afterschool program for high school age students, called CareerWorks, is based at the former McKeesport Daily News building, while a summer camp and afterschool program is being offered at the Orchard Park housing complex in Duquesne.

Jason Togyer is editor of Tube City Almanac and volunteer executive director of Tube City Community Media Inc. He may be reached at jtogyer@gmail.com.

Originally published July 07, 2021.

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