Reading, PA- For many kids, the Olivet Boys & Girls Club is like a second home, Eric Savage said.
More than 50 pre-teen children on hand for the ribbon-cutting Monday afternoon at Olivet’s new Pendora Park felt at home enough to make full use of the game room, playing pool, ping-pong, foosball and other table games.
“They (club members) are greeted by a friendly face,” said Savage, chairman of the club’s board, addressing about 75 donors and dignitaries visiting the facility. “They get a healthy snack, they get homework help and have games to play. That is what it is like when you come home.”
Savage, president and owner of Freedom Auto Group in Tilden Township and Harrisburg, said 92 percent of the youths served by the Olivet Club report feeling confident about their futures because of the Club.
He thanked the many businesses, foundations and individuals that donated to make the club a reality.
The Pendora Park facility is pivotal to serving the city’s youth, said campaign Chairwoman P. Sue Perrotty of Exeter, a retired banker.
“More than 3,000 kids live in the eight-block area surrounding the club,” she said, “and it’s in one of the most poverty-stricken parts of the city.”
Olivet had been providing programs in east Reading since 1998 out of the former Temple Oheb Sholom synagogue building at 13th Street and Perkiomen Avenue, Perrotty said. However, portions of the building were unusable; there was no gym, no off-street parking and no room for expansion.
Perrotty gave a tour of the new facility with a gymnasium ideal for getting up a game of horse, or practicing the latest Zumba moves or other fitness activities. She showed off the digital music/recording studio, a partnership with the Reading Musical Foundation. The studio is equipped with African drums and other percussion instruments.
“The kids love experimenting with rhythm,” Perrotty said.
Besides the popular game room, the new club also features an arts and crafts room, a soundproof homework room and a computer lab.
Teens have their own hang-out, Perrotty said, off-limits to the younger crowd. Styled to resemble a large comfortable family room, the teen room includes televisions, video games and conversation corners.
Younger children do not mix with teenagers at the club, she said.
“From 3 to 6 p.m., the club is used by the little kids,” she said. “The teens’ time is from 6 to 9 p.m.”
Open less than a month, the Pendora Park facility already has an average daily attendance of at least 150 children and serves more than 250 young people each week, staff members said, and that number is expected to climb to 600.
Courtesy of http://www.readingeagle.com/news/article/olivet-cuts-ribbon-on-new-clubhouse-at-pendora-park