Newly appointed Moosic Youth Center executive director George Weitz (left) and board president Mark Powell, show off the center’s newly remodeled kitchen.
The Moosic Youth Center is under new leadership and getting a facelift.
Joe Lapinski was the executive director for more than 50 years until his passing in July. Attorney Mark J. Powell of Powell Law has been elected president of the board of directors and George Weitz will succeed Lapinski as the executive director. Other officers include vice president Joe Dente, treasurer Donald Frederickson and secretary Frank Assoff.
The center, at 600 Main St. in Moosic, is a registered nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote social, recreational, educational and character building programs. It serves youth and families in Moosic, Taylor and Old Forge.
“The youth center opened in the 1950s when Ben Sterling, owner of Rocky Glen Park, rallied business leaders in the Triboro area to raise money and establish the Moosic Youth Center,” Powell said. “In 1969, it became formalized and the community raised money to move it to its present location.”
Lapinski worked for 25 years as a plant manager for La Saint Logistics. He made his home next to the youth center and was always there. He and his wife Helene had three children, all of whom spent time at the youth center.
“I was involved in numerous activities from when I was 5 to 15. It cost 10 cents to get in and it was great,” said Lapinski’s daughter Lynn Colarusso. “I roller skated there and played basketball. My dad had it up and running for the kids in the Triboro area. He thought everybody should be able to use it. I hope it continues like it is today in my fathers honor.”
Mark Powell is a 1982 graduate of Riverside High School and a Moosic native.
“I grew up playing basketball at the youth center court. I also coached. I taught my children how to play basketball there. My wife has been involved,” he said. “My experiences are similar to many of our volunteers. I served on the youth center’s board of directors for the past 25 years. The youth center is a big part of my life.”
Powell’s uncle, the late James J. Powell Jr., was one of the founding supporters, and his cousin James J. Powell III is the longest-serving member of the board, having served since 197O.
The youth center is known primarily for basketball, but provides for Moosic Youth Center School of Dance, Moosic Lions Club meetings, holiday events, pitching clinics, softball practice and rentals for birthday and graduation parties, showers and other events.
The youth center is hoping to expand its programs and add a girls’ basketball league.
The Moosic Youth Center includes a full gymnasium and stage, upstairs meeting room, game room with pool tables, a full kitchen and downstairs meeting room.
“The kitchen was gutted and renovated. New tiles, cabinets and appliances were added. It went from a ’60s look to modern day,” Powell said. “We plan on updating the bathrooms and making them accessible. The stage needs a new curtain and repair. We would like to put in air conditioning so that the center can have year round programs. Ninety-five percent of this was donated labor, which makes it work.”
The youth center in the past was 70 to 80 percent funded through the United Way. Then in the last 15 years it has been 100 percent community involvement for funding.
“Heating the building adds up and just trying to keep the doors open is a challenge. It is through the goodness of the community that we can operate,” Powell said. “I look forward to working closely with the board of directors and our new executive director to make sure the Moosic Youth Center remains a vital and cherished asset in our community.”