LeMoyne Community Center P.O. Box 1241 200 Forrest Avenue Washington, PA 15301 724-228-0260 (Phone) 724-206-9676 (Fax) Executive Director â€“ Joyce D. Ellis Email Address â€“ Lemoynecc@yahoo.com Follow LeMoyne Community Center activities on Facebook and Twitter
We wish to thank A to Z Communications (412) 471-4160, who created this brochure, and A-Link Printing (412)220-2090, who printed it, for their generosity and commitment to help ensure that LMCC's mission to better the community will be successful now and for future generations to come.
OUR MISSION The LeMoyne Community Center is developing, shaping, defining, and stabilizing our community with Education, Arts, Health, and Recreational programs.
amed for Francis Julius LeMoyne — a 19th century abolitionist whose house is now Pennsylvania’s first National Historic Landmark of the Underground Railroad — the LeMoyne Community Center is built on an altruistic foundation that spans three centuries. The philanthropic spirit of many partners and friends allows this “gem” to nurture the people of the Washington, Pa., community to this very day.
OUR LOGO The uppercase "L" and the lowercase "C" represent the inter-generational aspect of the Center: the old to young —rich to poor. The "L" also embraces the "C" to symbolize protection, warmth and the security of friendly hug.
Symbolizes the history of the Center coming full circle. Universal sign for ball that represents the recreational side the center was built on and the programs which, currently are running.
Triangle symbolizes a strong structure that has stood over time. Represents the roof of the Center that is over the heads of community members. Pointing upward to the sky giving thanks to God.
The idea of history with modernism is carried through in the font. Adding organic movement below the baseline refers to the roots that are grown literally and figuratively at the center.
Current photography is original and was taken at the LeMoyne Center by Matthew Libby and Zach Panzer.
Standing on the shoulders of compassion
n the late 1800s, a wealthy carriage maker, Robert Forrest, lived on the land the LeMoyne Community Center occupies today. Known for his benevolence, Forrest would open his house and grounds to the poor, providing a place to learn recreational games and sports. This was to be known as the Forrest House. He also enlisted patrons to share food with families who were in need. Without realizing it, Forrest began the concept of a community center that would perpetuate into the 21st century. Upon his death in the early 20th century, Forrest left his house and property of nearly three acres to the African American community of Washington, Pa., who had predominantly taken part in his inclusionary efforts. In the mid-1930s, Washington Steel Corporation founder Thomas S. Fitch joined the area Neighborhood House Association (NHA) board and was instrumental in developing a deed that ensured the Forrest land would never be sold. Fitch was NHA president when the inter-racial Community Council was established, which led to the naming of the LeMoyne Community Center. A leading fundraiser and contributor, Fitch later helped to develop the Centerâ€™s swimming pool and gymnasium.
t the end of the 1930s, Miss Pearle Harris came to Washington, Pa., from the South. Possessed of a teaching degree, a rare thing for an African American woman at the time, Harris applied to the local school system, but was denied. She began to tutor preschool children at the Forrest House — and many of those children still remember her passion for teaching.
Officially launched nationwide by the Johnson administration, Head Start is a child development program that embodies a basic belief in education as the solution to poverty.
When the children entered school, the district took note of their readiness and inquired as to how they had learned so much. The children replied that Miss Pearle Harris had been teaching them, because Miss Pearle stated “I just wanted to give them a head start.” Little did the district know that this tenacious lady from the South was laying the foundation for today’s national Head Start Program.
Miss Pearle Harris used the training and talents she noted God had endowed her with to give African American children a “head start” on their educational paths.
In 1956, during a time when civil rights were at a crisis point for Americans, a new structure was erected on the Forrest property for the LeMoyne Community Center as the Forrest House continued to operate. A joyous dedication of the newly rebuilt Center was attended by Jackie Robinson, Major League Baseball’s first black player, and Dodgers owner Wesley “Branch” Rickey, who broke the color barrier by signing Robinson and later Roberto Clemente.
ducating the community, strengthening family life and making better neighborhoods were goals the Center fulfilled through classes in reading, first aid, cooking, horticulture, dance, sign language and etiquette. Baseball, basketball, football, lacrosse, horseback riding, track, swimming, wrestling and more exposed children to the discipline, teamwork, and commitment demanded by sports. Students had access to a rich knowledge base that empowered them with many life skills — and families had a new sense of confidence in the future for their children.
it was time for this Phoenix to rise out of the ashes S
The Center flourished on into the ‘60s and ‘70s Fueled by a grant that was responsible for starting what is known as the Community Action Program, the Center filled a need at a time when the under-served African American community in Washington needed a hub to serve youth and families.
he Center underwent many positive and influential changes during its decades of existence and earned recognition, including six United Way Gold Awards for its community commitment.
Then tragedy struck. A suspicious fire gutted the main facility in October of 2004, and that same December, a water main break further damaged the structure. For four years, the Center sat broken, boarded up and empty of all but the occasional vandal — and an echo of voices from its past.
o decreed Joyce Ellis, who gave up a 37-year dance career to devote herself full time to the LeMoyne Community Center, and is now its executive director. As a youth, she had grown up “living at the playground program” that ran for the summer, and she wept at seeing the Center unused and in disrepair. Ellis embarked on a personal campaign — selling her business, using her life savings and amassing a cadre of support — to bring the Center back to life. She devised an inspired “Hands On the Community” event in September of 2007. Starting with a parade from downtown Washington to the
Center, which had been decorated with children’s handprint cutouts, the event drew in residents and politicians alike. Donors, the LeMoyne Community Center board, staff and volunteers — including a group of bikers and local children — restored the Center to a usable condition. Ellis initiated numerous year-round programs for students who flock to the Center from four surrounding school districts. Results of her efforts have been twofold, she says. “I came to bring change to the Center, and I became changed forever because of the Center.”
Camp Challenge: A positive outlet Fueled by a grant that was responsible for starting multi-cultural programs to bridge the gap, and challenge Washington County youth to explore the world through education, sports and recreation.
tarted in 2009, the concept of the Camp Challenge Summer Program is to inspire, develop and educate youth through supervised sports education and recreation programs. And to encourage underprivileged youth to set higher goals for themselves. The Center recognizes the need for youth to have a positive outlet for their energy, and creativity, and itâ€™s largely due to Camp Challenge that the local crime rate has declined.
- Obstacle Courses
“If you can reach these young kids and get them inspired, it gives them an alternative to being led by the wrong crowd.” Roger Kingdom
Six-week Track and Field Program
wo-time Olympic Gold Medalist and former University of Pittsburgh Running Back Roger Kingdom also states: “It’s all about keeping the flame alive with these young kids.” Kingdom, who is now head track and field coach at California University of Pennsylvania, hosted the introduction of the LeMoyne Community Center’s six-week track and field program, taught by volunteers. More than 60 children registered for the initial program, which included homework tutoring by Washington School District teachers and volunteers. Kingdom runs the nonprofit Roger Kingdom Foundation in Georgia, which uses athletics and academics to motivate underprivileged children. He is working to establish a chapter in the Pittsburgh area, where he played football for Pitt in the early 1980s.
Inter-Generational Programs Cooking Class – All types of foods and dishes. First Tee – A youth development organization that teaches golf as well as the nine core values. Homework and More – Students receive help on homework assignments and access to educational, sports and recreational programs. History Caretaker – A program held during Black History Month to teach boys about African culture in a fun, interactive environment. American Historical Girls Doll Book Club – A program for girls ages 8 and up to learn about history while enhancing their reading skills. Open Gym Youth/Older – Supervised recreation. Wrestling – A program for children ages 4-14 to learn wrestling skills and build self-esteem. 4 Sports AAU Basketball – Begins in March and runs through July. Horticulture Program – Ongoing gardening and opportunities to decorate local churches and the community. Health Programs – Ongoing. Weight room available. Call for schedule. Robotics – Sponsored by the YWCA Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon University and designed for youth to enhance math skills. All schools can participate. The Spring Fling and the Harvest Party – Two parties we host each year. These community parties are free to all ages with plenty of food, games and crafts. Tai Chi – An adult fitness class that teaches martial arts movement. Tues @ 10:45 The Adult Education Program – Starting in the fall of 2011 there will be several programs in which adult men or women can get licensed in several fields of employment. Programs vary by day, time and availability. Contact the Center for more information.
“These kids showing up here are our future. We have to take care of them or we don’t have a future.” —Washington County Police Chief James Blyth
Hands on the Community
he target audience of the LeMoyne Community Center is the often under-served community of Washington County, which is diverse and includes African Americans, Caucasians, Latinos and Asians. Partnering with local government officials, including county commissioners and state representatives, has brought a new respect to the work the Center does and has enabled the Center to achieve its mission of service to all. The mayors of Washington and neighboring East Washington municipalities have endorsed the on-going success the Center has achieved with students in four school districts within the County. The Washington County Chief of Police has also noted a significant crime rate reduction in the community and attributes it to the rise in the Center's programs, which engage students in out-of-school and after-school programs and activities. The LeMoyne Community Center expects to help achieve even greater outcomes: - Stop the dropout cycle associated with generational poverty for the under-served community in Washington County. - Decrease the illiteracy rate by offering educational programs to enhance learning opportunities and providing entry into successful workforce endeavors and post-secondary education. - Reduce the youth crime rate in Washington County. - Help families get into higher skill-level jobs and become home owners.
A Measure of Success
ositive outcomes achieved by the LeMoyne Community Center will continue to be evaluated by a number of factors, including the number of participants it serves daily and annually. Washington County school districts have agreed to provide report cards each
we will work closely with the Washington County Chief of Police to monitor the youth crime rate and assess the impact of our programs in keeping youth engaged and off of the street.
period for every student who attends the Center. Those statistics will be used as a concrete measurable to determine how students are progressing and help in the development of current and future programming.
Work in P
Strengthening the Center to become an even greater force for social change
he LeMoyne Community Center will continue to seek funding from individuals as well as foundations and corporations to support specific projects, and will partner with those organizations that can help provide support for the Center to achieve sustainability. Primary sources of funding include grants from private family and community foundations, and the need for more funding exists.
Here is a partial listing of the organizations and agencies that help us to meet ongoing operating costs to run our programs:
Today, the Center is its own entity, but it partners collaboratively with organizations in Washington and adjacent counties.
- Oglebay Institute
Center addition for classrooms and conference rooms
- August Wilson Center for African American Culture
New building for job training and consulting
- Benedum Foundation - California University of Pennsylvania
Inter-generational sports arena construction
- Carnegie Mellon University - Giant Eagle
A plan for community engagement and impact
- Range Resources - Tickets for Kids Foundation - United Way - Washington Community Foundation - Washington Financial Bank - YWCA Greater Pittsburgh
o enhance our capabilities to maximize each childâ€™s potential and better serve our community, a three-phase plan to evolve the LeMoyne Community Center is envisioned for the future.
Finally, the third phase will involve the construction of a building on the Center grounds to house programs that will advance workforce opportunities by providing job training and employment placement consulting.
The first phase, made possible by stimulus funding, is underway to build an addition to the Center that will house classrooms and conference rooms. The second phase will include the construction of an intergenerational sports arena, one in which all ages with varying levels of sports abilities can assemble.
Once the construction's first phase is complete, the Center will be used to operate the Community Action Southwest Head Start Program for low-income children. Our Center will then come full circle from the days of a special teacher, Miss Pearle Harris, and her desire to give underprivileged preschoolers a â€œhead start.â€?
Keep our Center strong for generations to come
ith assistance from foundations and corporations — and individuals like you — who understand that investment in the LeMoyne Community Center is an investment in the region’s economic future, the Center will be strengthened and it will become an even greater force for social change. We salute special friends like you, whose generosity of spirit moves you to sustain our mission. There are many ways to help. One is to give the gift of time. Our volunteer teachers, mentors and helpers are the very heart of our Center. Financial gifts enable the Center to expand and enhance community-based programs and purchase much-needed furniture, equipment and supplies. Your contribution can help our Center to change and improve lives, resulting in healthier families, neighborhoods, and communities.
Here are some ways you can help contribute: - Create naming rights for your family and your names will be added to the Center’s legacy wall. - Make a memorial or tribute gift in memory of or in honor of someone important to you.
- Join our Special Members Program by pledging $5.00 a month per person. - Make the Center your United Way charity of choice and help us to reach more people in need of encouragement and self-esteem.
- Gifts from Center alumni are special to Center staff and inspire hope for a positive future. The LeMoyne Community Center is an IRS Code 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that relies on your continued interest and financial support. Your donations are tax deductible.
“The LeMoyne Community Center offers a range of valuable services, but just as importantly, it is a symbol of aspiration to the children of Washington County.” — Benedum Foundation Vice President James V. Denova