Community center closing after 70 years

June 3, 2009 3:57:35 PM PDT
The New Frankford Community Center, located in Northeast Philadelphia, has been a fixture in the area for nearly seven decades, but its future is in doubt. Terry Tobin, the Executive Director of the center for the past 12 years, is hoping for a miracle to keep the center open.

"I was doing everything we could possibly do to try and stay open; we were grasping at straws and that didn't work, so we had to make a tough decision," Tobin said.

The Center has been in the neighborhood for nearly 70 years; it was a YWCA until the mid 1990's, when it was purchased with the help of Frankford Hospital.

There are 30 children enrolled in the center's preschool program and another 30 attend the afterschool program.

"The parents did not want to tell them, some of them asked me to tell them. We had a little boy who just cried and cried and I had to take him and let him know everything is going to be okay," childcare director Jamie Dawejko said.

A letter was sent to parents last week indicating the scheduled closing on Friday; it included a list of other centers in the area.

The community Y is self-funded but has received state grants; an anticipated grant for $200,000 didn't come through last year.

Tobin hasn't been able to pay his employees for about a month.

"They've hung in there with me which is fantastic, I mean, they're great people," Tobin said.

The 800 Y members, who have depended on the center's gym facilities and only indoor pool in the area are stunned by the proposed closing.

Tobin says he has never seen a more dedicated staff. Those who work at the New Frankford Y, are hopeful a YMCA or another community center will purchase it so that it might reopen in the near future.

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