Events planned for McGuffey Centre
By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK
In 1940, a juvenile-court judge and the director of playgrounds realized there was a need for supervised recreational and educational activities in the northeast area of the city.
The result was the McGuffey Centre — and it’s still going strong 70 years later.
“On this side of town, which was called the Sharon line because the trolley car ran past this area to go to Sharon, Pennsylvania, there were no organized community activities,” said Jennifer Miller, executive director of the center.
Henry Beckenbach, Mahoning County Common Please Court judge, and John Chase, playgrounds director, worked with Paul Booth and Birdie Welcher to make the idea a reality.
They purchased the Mahoning Presbytery on Jacobs Road and turned it into a community center. Welcher served as the first director, a position she held for 10 years.
The center offered day care, sewing clubs, Scouting, mothers groups, football teams, couple’s groups, drill teams and more.
“Just everything for the community,” Miller said. “It actually was a community center.”
The organization eventually outgrew the Presbytery building, and in 1961, the current center was erected.
“We are still a community center, and we still offer activities for the entire family,” Miller said.
Offerings now include after-school programming, summer day camp, computer classes, teen recreation and senior programming such as adult day services and socialization opportunities.
“We actually now service more than the East Side,” Miller said. “We have transportation, so we pick up seniors on all sides of town and bring them here for activities.”
The center has lasted, Miller said, because there’s still a need in the community for it.
“The community knew they had somewhere to go where they could get quality programs and quality services at little or no cost,” she said.
Several events are planned to celebrate the center’s anniversary.
Carnivals are a big part of the center’s history, Miller said, so a McGuffey Day Carnival and Juneteenth Celebration are planned for June 19. Included will be vendors, clowns, face painting and cultural and historical activities. There also will be a pig roast and barbecue.
An Old School Party and Dance will take place June 26, offering a chance for the community to stroll down memory lane. A DJ will play music from the 1940s through today.
“So it’s going to be a really old-school nostalgic night, yet something for everybody,” Miller said.
The anniversary events will culminate with an Evening in Elegance on July 9. The event will include dinner, special presentations to former directors and board members, and a dance.
“We plan to transform the center into an elegant party,” Miller said.
For more information or to sponsor an event, call 330-744-4377.