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State to help Catholic-run center for troubled youth

The state will help a Catholic-run center for troubled youth build $1 million in health and recreation facilities for use by clients and the public.

Auberle’s Community Wellness Initiative calls for construction of ballfields, outdoor basketball courts, climbing walls and a community walking trail at its McKeesport campus as well as renovations to its gymnasium.

The project will include so-called challenge courses and rope courses. Counselors and mental health experts believe such courses have therapeutic qualities that help abused and neglected children regain their self-esteem.

“We know that throughout the region there’s a shortage of these kinds of specialized facilities … as well as those for regular sports,” Auberle CEO John Lydon said. “We want to be able to share what we have with the community.”

The announcement was made yesterday during Auberle’s annual board meeting in McKeesport.

A Catholic agency, Auberle houses children aged 7 to 18 ordered by judges to live there because they have behavioral problems or were removed from their parents’ custody. The home provides a supervised independent-living program for people with special needs 16 to 21 years old.

Auberle, located on Hartman Street in McKeesport, offers its recreation areas to the community, including its gym and several practice fields often used by an eighth-grade football team.

The project is being paid with $500,000 from the state Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program and $500,000 matched by Auberle.

Rep. Marc Gergely, D-White Oak, pushed for the appropriation in the state House.

Bishop David A. Zubik, leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, praised the center for successfully generating money to cover half of the project, despite a fundraising year challenged by the economic downturn.

Officials said construction should begin this year.

The center is named for McKeesport philanthropist Pauline Auberle, who willed money and land to the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh to start a home for boys.

In 1948, the Pauline Auberle Memorial Foundation was incorporated, and the Auberle Home opened four years later.


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