Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

In With the New: Bethesda Mission to break ground on community center this year.

A rendering of the new community center, left, and existing youth center on Herr Street.

A teen center in North Allison Hill is slated to double in size this summer, bringing with it new programs and amenities for the surrounding community.

Bethesda Mission plans to renovate an old printing plant on Herr Street adjacent to its current Youth Center, adding a full-size gymnasium, classrooms, office space and an event hall with a full-service kitchen.

The end result will be a full-service community center with classes and amenities for all age groups, said Cindy Mallow, director of development at Bethesda Mission. The current youth center only serves children and teens.

“We’re hoping to involve families and expand out into the community even more,” Mallow said.

Bethesda Mission hopes to break ground on the $2.8 million project this summer and finish it by the end of 2018, Mallow said. They’ve obtained the necessary authorization from the Harrisburg Zoning Hearing Board and will seek approval from City Council this month.

Bethesda Mission converted an old fire station to a Youth Center in 1990.

Bethesda Mission has operated its teen center from a former fire station at 1428 Herr St. since 1990. It purchased the former Kurzenkabe Press facility at 1424 Herr for $275,000 in 2015, according to Dauphin County property records.

The 10,000-square-foot space needs extensive renovations, Mallow said, including an overhaul of its HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems. Contractors will also raise the ceilings to accommodate the gymnasium and construct a connection between the print facility and the youth center.

Since Bethesda Mission announced its plan to renovate the printing facility back in 2015, it has raised more than $1.5 million from the community and private foundations, including $600,000 from the York-based Stabler Foundation. The faith-based rescue mission does not take public funding, Mallow said.

Mission directors hope that donated goods and labor will help offset construction costs. They plan to begin soliciting bids next month, Mallow said, and will consider donation offers before awarding a contract. The mission will also call on volunteer laborers to help with tasks such as painting.

Mallow estimated that the renovation will double Bethesda Mission’s facility space on Herr Street. New programs won’t be announced until after the renovation in complete, but could include GED programs, parenting classes or computer classes. The expansion will also allow the mission to double or triple enrollment in its after-school program and summer programs for youth.

“There’s just a need for a place for the kids to go,” Mallow said. “Our center gives them the opportunity to be with other kids and have a mentor.”

Bethesda Mission currently does not plan to hire new personnel to staff the center, but Mallow said that they will need more volunteers to help with programming.

As construction on the new community center gets underway, Bethesda Mission will also begin fundraising for renovations to the existing youth center. Mallow hopes that they can avoid suspending programs if they complete the community center renovation before they make updates to the youth center. Those renovations will cost at least $1.5 million, she said.

For more information on Bethesda Mission, visit

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