It was a great day in June when Hazleton’s native son Joe Maddon, Manager of the Tampa Bay Rays, came home for a celebration that culminated with the ribbon cutting of the Hazleton One Community Center.
Mr. Maddon, along with a number of area community leaders, founded the Hazleton Integration Project (HIP) with the goal of providing low and no-cost activities for children while building trust and respect among all of the region’s cultures. Called by some a “unity center,” it is envisioned to be a place where children of all the community's ethnic backgrounds can come together in organized sports, educational programs and a wide variety of activities at little or no cost.
HIP raised money through two Maddon-organized sports memorabilia auctions and dinner events featuring celebrity guests including Yogi Berra and Tino Martinez, and solicited contributions from the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and local corporate sponsors to purchase the former Most Precious Blood Catholic School on East Fourth Street to transform it into the Hazleton One Community Center.
The two-story 64,000 SF building has 20 classrooms, a gymnasium, stage, and cafeteria. Programs will be offered to children and adults this summer including basketball, archery, arts and crafts, music, art, family yoga, and dance.
BIA provided pro-bono grantsmanship services to HIP and was successful in helping the non-profit to obtain a $450,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development with funds derived from gaming revenues. Krista Schneider, RLA, LEED AP, assisted in the grant preparation. The money will fund the design and installation of an elevator, accessible bathrooms, an entrance ramp, efficient lighting and heating fixtures. Asbestos removal will also be addressed. BIA will design and manage the improvement projects.
"This is a really great moment for Hazleton,” said Mr. Maddon during the celebration, “I see this center serving as a positive example for the rest of the country. That's what I see in the future.”