Reading, PA- More than a dozen windows of Olivet Boys & Girls Club in Pendora Park in Reading have been shattered. And there have been break-ins at the club’s Pendora Park building, with attempts to steal copper wire.
Olivet’s CEO & President Pablo Tejada said the recent crimes reinforce the area’s need for the Boys & Girls Club location, and vandals won’t prevent the club from opening.”This is a community that’s crying for help,” Tejada said.
The vandalism at Olivet’s Pendora Park location reached its head in March, when Reading Police announced they were seeking information about individuals who had caused damage to the building.
Construction on the $3 million facility began in September on a parcel of land that was donated to the organization by the city.
Tejada said the organization is hoping to complete construction by the start of the upcoming school year. He said they’ve already begun plans for registration, community outreach and tours throughout the summer.
The building will have a gymnasium, classrooms for after-school help and activities, a computer lab and a digital music studio. There also will be a game room filled with arcade games and table games such as foosball and air hockey. It’s a room that’s always a major draw to kids in the community, Tejada said.
Since 1998, Olivet had been providing programs in east Reading out of its building at the intersection of 13th Street and Perkiomen Avenue.
Formerly the Temple Oheb Sholom synagogue, the building was donated to the organization by Wyomissing resident Paul Kozloff.
With Pendora Park’s new, modern building, Olivet hopes to expand to serving 500 children, up from the current 200.
Olivet estimates that the new facility will directly impact about 3,500 youth who live in surrounding neighborhoods.According to the organization’s website, it has set a goal of raising $5 million over the next five years for program expansion, outreach and to build more community partnerships.
Arthur and Joanne Haberberger, Olivet’s 2016 champions of youth, announced last month that if the organization is able to raise $100,000 for Pendora Park, they will donate an additional $25,000.
When it’s open, the new Olivet building will be a beacon in the neighborhood, Tejada said. The area generally lacks resources and support for its families, he added.”This is why the Boys & Girls Club exists,” he said. “It is to help.”