Harborcreek Youth Service looks to build addition

HYS plans to add to existing gym

By Brian Kightlinger/BoroOnline.com

In 1955, Bill Gates was born, Rosa Parks stood up for her beliefs, "In God We Trust" was put on currency and in Erie County a school with a half-sized gym was erected as part of the Catholic Boys Protectory.

Over a century ago, Harborcreek Youth Services was established. Although the name has changed from its original inception, HYS has stayed true to its mission of helping youth triumph over adversity. Presently, HYS houses 70 residential clients. Sixty-five boys, ranging in age from 10 to 18, currently reside at the facility. All of these young men share the same indoor recreational space, the half-sized gym from 1955.

“We’re proud that we have outgrown our space,” says Amanda Karns, the community outreach coordinator for HYS, “but we also don’t want to keep teenagers cooped up all winter.”

In the summer, HYS has enough outdoor space for a dirt bike program, a swimming pool and other activities in which the boys participate. However, in the winter, space is limited. 

HYS is proposing the construction of an addition onto the existing gym in order to give the boys some more space for activities. According to CEO John Petulla, HYS is hoping to raise $200,000 to help with the cost of the new addition. “I would like to be able to give our boys more opportunities during the winter,” shares Petulla, including “the ability to have more physical activity, to have art therapy, to have music therapy, and a place that is separate from their unit.”

The therapeutic and recreation center would feature a full-sized basketball court, a walking track, multipurpose rooms for art and music therapy, and a home economics room.

“I think the Therapeutic Recreational Center would be good for residents to blow off steam…,” says one of HYS’s residents. “I really think that it would help out a lot."

Although it is still in the beginning phases, Petulla hopes to complete the addition by the winter of 2016. Donations can be sent directly to the agency with a note designating it for the Rec. Center, or by visiting www.hys-erie.org/reccenter.