Johnsonburg Community Center prepares to celebrate 100 years in 2019

Allison West
Staff Writer

The Johnsonburg Community Center has been a place of health, education, and welfare for the community for the past 99 years, and will turn 100 in October 2019. Children who grew up as part of the center have returned with their children and grandchildren to enjoy the programs offered by various directors and teachers throughout the years. The main goal always has been, and always will be, to bring the community together through healthy physical and social interactions.
Christine Bressler has been working as a Center director for over 30 years, and alongside her is Deana Paige, a former member and volunteer throughout school who came back to work at the Center. The two stated that they enjoy working with all age groups and embracing the social interaction the Center offers.
One of the things Paige and Bressler find is residents don’t realize the Center has always been a community center. It was not just an abandoned building that was turned into a place for fun, physical wellness, and education, but was created to be a place for such things from the start.
“We are only here for the community, and because of the community,” said Paige, “We enjoy the people we deal with on a daily basis.”
The community discussed by the directors is not only residents of Johnsonburg, many people in St. Marys, Ridgway, Kane, and even as far as Lancaster come to enjoy the facilities, events, and classes are offered by employees. With most of the programs, attendance rises in January with New Year's resolutions at the front of the motivation. After two weeks, it narrows down to regular and dedicated new members.
Bressler and Paige are thankful for the support from the community and Johnsonburg Borough. At one point, the Center almost shut down, but residents rose up and rushed to its aid. From the very beginning, it has proven to be a vital part of peoples’ lives at any age.
“If you feel like you’re 10 [years old] when you come in, that’s okay,” Bressler said.
The Center feels like home for many members, and has been a safe place for school-age children and teens to escape. The kids can come and openly talk to directors, teachers, and other members with no fear.
“If they feel comfortable [when they’re here] then we’re doing our job,” Bressler said, “We’re as ‘homey’ as we’re ever going to get.”
Overall, the Center is more than just “something to do,” but rather a resource for both town and area residents. Both Paige and Bressler feel overjoyed when the building is packed, and nostalgic words fill the air during birthday parties, Girl Scout meetings, swimming classes, and gymnastics practices.

The full article can be found in the printed publication or E-Edition of the Ridgway Record, Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.