PITTSTON — The Greater Pittston Athletic Center (GPAC) is neatly tucked on the corner of Broad and Foundry Streets and most people in the Pittston area are not aware that it even exists.
Samuel Washington, creator of the athletic center, is doing all he could to change that.
Samuel, better known to many in Greater Pittston as Pastor Washington of the Perspective Church on Broad Street, is on a mission – he wants the center to bigger and better, but he needs help.
On Aug. 17, Washington held an open house for all those in Greater Pittston to see the impact that the center has been on local youth. Physical and mental fitness is the goal, but the main method used is through boxing. “Actually the main focus is self-esteem,” Washington said.
The response over the last five years has been exceptional growing the number of attendees from four to nearly 60. With growth like that, you would think Washington would be happy. On many levels he is, but his big concern is space; they are running out of it.
“We’ve just formulated a great board of directors and we are trying to take this to another level,” Washington said. “Our spot (the center) right now, the way we work with youth, is just not big enough.”
The purpose of the open house is to show the community what the GPAC has been doing work in such area as anti-bullying, anti-drug, mentoring programs, community service and even discipline.
“We are looking at a building in Dupont, but we just need funding and assistance,” said Washington. “Outside of the bigger complex, we are in need of safer equipment.”
The Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce is working closely with the GPAC for guidance as well as the new members on the board of directors.
One benefactor of the program is Angel Johnson, 17, of Pittston, whose focus is boxing where he trains at the gym regularly with the hope of turning professional one day.
“When I was younger, I was stealing money and other things, and when I got here in the gym, good things starting to happen,” Johnson said.
He and his family relocated from Montclair, New Jersey to Pittston when he was 6 years old.
The program is working for Johnson and you can see it with his boxing skills. “It’s changed my whole outlook on everything and I became isolated and I didn’t even know it; I could make myself better,” Johnson said. “I’m boxing for nine years and it’s been great; I want to be a professional boxer.”
The programs available are not just for children, adults have been taking advantage as well.
Jeannette Roundtree has been searching for a void in her life and boxing has been the answer.
“The program has helped me with my confidence even at the age of 41 that I can too find a physical fitness program and boxing is included for myself,” Roundtree said.
She plans on fighting professionally and is targeting the end of the year to get her license to box under the Master’s level.
“I never considered getting into it (boxing) but I love it,” Roundtree said.
The GPAC is planning on future fundraisers so they could reach their goal.
The gym is located at 70 Broad St. and is open Saturday through Monday. To make a donation to help raise money for a new facility, go to: www.pulpitboxing.com or by emailing at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or email email@example.com