Southeastern PA

Future of Pottstown community center up in the air after Olivet announcement

POTTSTOWN, Pa. - On a steamy summer Monday night, dozens of kids sprinted up and down the court outside the Ricketts Center in Pottstown, a place many call home.

"I've been here since I was little," Malik Brown from Pottstown said.

"One of the cornerstones, a building we've got to hold onto," said Terrence Shawell, Pottstown community mentor. "We don't have a pool. We don't have other stuff, so this is one of the last things we do have."

The Ricketts Center is a busy spot year round with weekly programs for children of all ages, but the community recently learned that after 10 years, the Olivet Boys and Girls Club is no longer offering those programs at the center.

"I was hurt by it because I've been here since I was little, I just think it's crazy they didn't give nobody no warning," Brown said.

"Obviously we wish them all the best, they did a whole lot for us, but we don't like how they kind of pulled out," Shawell said.

The Olivet Boys and Girls Club said last week it is returning to its original mission of focusing on children in Reading and Berks County. The decision surprised Pottstown Borough Council.

"We're disappointed because obviously the center is a great asset to our community and all the functions that it provides for our youth," Councilman Ryan Procsal said.

Procsal says finding an organization to run the center's programs is now a top priority.

"There were some entities that were interested in it prior to and then we're going to put out a request for qualifications, maybe get more people in the pool as well," Procsal said.

There's a meeting scheduled for Wednesday evening to discuss the future of the space but in the meantime, people like Shawell say the Ricketts Center will continue to be used and serve as a safe place for the young people of Pottstown.

"Gotta live life and gotta keep pushing, that's our motto gotta keep pushing," Shawell said.

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