Centers to officially close Saturday

WARREN — After being open for more than 90 years, the United Methodist Community Centers in Warren and Youngstown will close Saturday because of a lack of sustainable funding.

The Rev. Abby Auman, district superintendent for the Mahoning Valley District of the United Methodist Church, said Tuesday the two centers — one that was the main office in Youngstown and the other on Park Avenue in Warren — will officially close Saturday.

“It is sad to see them close, but the financial reality dictated this,” Auman said.

She said the centers have been receiving less funding to operate.

“Like many agencies, we are affected by the economy,” Auman said.

The centers have provided services to senior citizens, veterans and summer programming for children. She said both centers were started more than 90 years ago.

Auman said the current centers “were proud” to have followed in the footsteps of the Pearl Street Mission of Youngstown and the Rebecca Williams Community Center of Warren.

Rick Wolcott, director of communications for the East Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church, said in an email, “The board of directors regrets to announce that the United Methodist Community Center will suspend services indefinitely effective September 15 due to a lack of sustainable funding.”

He said every effort is being made to connect clientele with other agencies.

“We are hopeful that we will serve the communities of the Mahoning Valley again in the future,” Wolcott said.

Auman said the staff in recent weeks has been working to help clients get directed to other agencies that will provide them with similar services, such as those who take part in senior citizen exercise programs being directed to the Area Agency on Aging or Mercy Health.

She said the centers offered food pantries to local residents in need, who will be directed to other food locations.

“We are doing our best to help these clients find food pantries,” she said.

Veterans programs and services are being directed to the Veterans Administration.

Auman said the staff did the best it could to carefully spend service and program grant money.

The Warren location was inside the First United Methodist Church, 309 N. Park Ave. It had previously been located at the Rebecca Williams Community Center, which closed in 2006, but was moved to the first floor of the church, with the new location lending itself to more access to services.

The center also was located near the Trumbull County Department of Job and Family Services, One Stop and the Veterans Commission.

The United Methodist Community Center in Youngstown was established in 1922 and was first known as the Pearl Street Mission. The mission took its new name in 1959 and relocated to 138 E. Boardman St., in downtown Youngstown in July 2009.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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