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Boys & Girls Club Opening New Facility in City

Community leaders to receive tour, cut ribbon Wednesday

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
October 03, 2023
Posted in: Announcements, McKeesport and Region News

The Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania will return to the city with a new facility called “The Club Teen Center” on Fifth Avenue, Downtown, a spokesman has announced.

A ribbon-cutting for the center — located at 1305 Fifth Ave., in a structure owned by UPMC McKeesport Hospital — is planned for 3 p.m. Wednesday.

BGCWPA officials also will outline the organization’s new priorities and approach to helping Kids in communities across western Pennsylvania, said David Tobiczyk, vice president of advancement, in an email announcement.

Elected officials, community leaders and representatives from UPMC are expected to attend.

Chris Watts, the new chief executive officer of Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania, also will be on hand to explain the group’s new direction and mission.

The McKeesport will be the first opening of a new facility for the Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Tobiczyk.

The new teen center is located just two blocks from the LaRosa Youth Club on Ravine Street, which was operated by the Boys & Girls Club until 2020, when it abruptly closed. The organization had previously closed the Duquesne-West Mifflin clubhouse.

At the time, Lisa Abel-Palmieri, who was then the chief executive officer of BGCWPA, blamed the closures on declining attendance at the clubhouses, high overhead expenses, and the pandemic.

The McKeesport clubhouse has since reopened under the leadership of the newly created LaRosa Youth Development Foundation and offers many of the same programs previously offered under the auspices of the BGCWPA, including after-school sports and mentoring, day camp, a computer lab, science and technology enrichment and homework help.

From 2019 until 2023, the BGCWPA maintained a presence on the second floor of the former McKeesport Daily News building, offering after-school activities.

That program opened in 2019 as Career Works, offering college and technical school preparatory classes for students students in grades 9 through 12.

The Boys & Girls Club moved out of that space several weeks ago, sources familiar with the situation said.

Following the ribbon-cutting Wednesday, officials and invited guests will tour the facility and learn more about programming planned for the space.

In a press release, Tobiczyk said the new location will be a place “for teens to prepare for careers and life.”

Programs available at no-cost to youth will include workforce development, job training, homework support, financial literacy, mentoring, health services and mental health counseling, he said.

Jason Togyer is volunteer executive director of Tube City Community Media Inc. and editor of Tube City Almanac.

Originally published October 03, 2023.

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