$1.8 million expansion of Bethesda Mission’s Herr Street Community Center planned

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Bethesda Mission is planning a $1.8 million expansion of the Herr Street Community Center in the Allison Hill neighborhood.

The Bethesda Mission bought a 10,000 square-foot building next to the current center for the expansion. It will include a gym and activity center for athletics, creative arts, education and IT support systems, music studio, room banquets and large events, outdoor play area, senior activities.

Mary Cobb is close to her five grandchildren.

“I’ve had two of them since birth,” Cobb said.

Luckily, she has some help.

“I’m fortunate enough to live in the same neighborhood that the Bethesda Mission Youth Center is located in. My grandkids like going here and really look forward to it,” Cobb said.

Cobb’s five grandkids all go to the Youth Center. She raises 15-year-old twins and helps out with her three other grandkids who are 10, nine, and seven.

The Youth Center is in an 108-year-old former firehouse. The Bethesda Mission bought a 10,000 square-foot former printing building to turn into a community center. An entryway will connect the two buildings.

The empty printing building has old wooden walls now, but those with the Bethesda Mission hope it will soon be filled with laughter and breathe new life into the community.

“It’s going to benefit the community greatly with just the thought of them just being able to come in and have a gym where they are able to do gymnastics, where they’re able to do basketball without hitting a ceiling and breaking a light, where they’re able to just even dream their own dreams because they do have big dreams,” said Serina Brown, director of Bethesda Mission’s Community Center.

The Bethesda Mission still needs to raise $300,000 to make those dreams a reality. They have received a $500,000 matching grant from the Stabler Foundation. It is estimated the existing Youth Center will cost $465,000 to renovate, the new entryway should cost $349,500, renovation of the old printing building should cost $903,740, and the outdoor play area will cost $82,000.

They hope to begin construction in 2017. It should take nine to 12 months to complete.

“We can make a difference in Allison Hill by getting to the kids and exposing them to positive influences that will keep them in school, keep them out of the criminal justice system, and inspire them to work hard for a better life,” said Chuck Wingate, executive director of the Bethesda Mission.

The Youth Center serves about 50 to 75 kids each day. The Bethesda Mission hopes the expansion can triple that. It’s something Mary Cobb and her grandkids look forward to.

“The Youth Center is a wonderful program not only for the children but for the community,” Cobb said. “They do so much.”

You can donate by calling (717) 257-4442 or clicking here.

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