Penn Hills group looks to fill the gap once YMCA closes
A group of Penn Hills area human service providers will meet Thursday to brainstorm ideas on how to fill the gap once the municipality’s YMCA closes.
Jace Ransom, a member of the Penn Hills Partnership, said about 50 people representing various human service providers in the area will meet from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday at Mt. Hope Community Presbyterian Church with YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh President and CEO Kevin Bolding, and Penn Hills YMCA Executive Director Thomas Wallace.
“The fact that we’ve been told the Y is closing and haven’t been told anything different, our goal is to create a community response on how to fill the gap in regard to (YMCA) programming,” Ransom said.
Ransom said Bolding will address frequently asked questions at the meeting and hold a small question-and-answer session. Wallace will highlight all the programs the YMCA offers.
Ransom, who works as a community outreach specialist at Allegheny County Office of Children, Youth and Families, said Penn Hills Partnership is a coalition of human service providers and residents that aim to connect the community with services to promote wellbeing. The group has met monthly at different locations around the municipality to network since June 2017.
The focus of July’s meeting changed when the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh announced in July it will save $1 million by closing three of its branches in Robinson, Penn Hills and Wilmerding.
Now, the focus is how various family service agencies from the area can fill the gap created once the Penn Hills YMCA closes for good.
YMCA Communications Director Pamela Haley confirmed Bolding’s attendance to the meeting but did not know how he was made aware of it.
“This is a chance for agencies and nonprofits on how they can move forward assisting the Y after it closes so that youth programming can continue,” Haley said.
An additional meeting for residents will happen again from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday evening at the Penn Hills YMCA, said Ransom. Both Bolding and Wallace will speak there, Haley said.
The meetings come after state Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Penn Hills, sent a harsh letter to Bolding July 12 asking him to explain the reasons behind closing the facilities in Penn Hills and Wilmerding and requested a town hall meeting.
A group of residents led by Penn Hills YMCA volunteer Chris Clark rallied at a Penn Hills park July 16 in an effort to put pressure on YMCA officials to keep the facility open.
DeLuca was not invited or made aware of the Thursday meetings sponsored by Penn Hills Partnership.
“Filling the gap doesn’t save the Y. We want to save the Y - we don’t want to close the Y,” DeLuca said, adding that he, Bolding and Wallace will meet privately Wednesday to discuss a town hall meeting to allow people to plead with YMCA officials to keep the facility open.
“They deserve a shot to keep the Y open,” DeLuca said.