South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

South Side Presbyterian working on a challenge grant for a new gym roof


The South Side Presbyterian Church, 162 years old, recently suffered serious damage to its gym roof.

The church’s insurance company has agreed to cover this claim, but the policy includes a deductible and depreciation expenses totaling about $5,200 for which the church is responsible.

A longtime member of the church, who wishes to remain anonymous, has offered a $1,000 challenge grant to the church to raise the other $4,200 by December 15. Essentially, this donor will match other gifts up to $4,000 at 25¢ on the dollar. 

“This person has asked us to appeal to the greater South Side community and surrounding neighborhoods for support,” explains Pastor Kathy Hamilton-Vargo. “The donor knows how important the gym is not only to the church but also to the whole community, so we’ve been asked to reach out to everyone for support. Even with the insurance coverage, this unexpected expense is a struggle for us right now.”

The South Side Presbyterian Church’s Co-Creators Youth Club, serving roughly 50 children, ages 4 – 16 weekly, uses the gym weekly during the school year. The Co-Creators Youth Club serves children from the South Side, and surrounding neighborhoods including Mount Oliver, Beltzhoover, Allentown, Carrick, the Hill District, and others.

It offers a “safe place” for youth from these various neighborhoods to come together to learn and grow, do crafts, work together on service projects, and have fun, in the faith context of caring, supportive relationships.

Additionally, an afterschool program and adult athletic groups use the gym.

“The gym is an important asset to the community and many are feeling the impact of not having it be available,” states Ms. Hamilton-Vargo. “The gym is also historic and has great lighting with many large windows. It was constructed in 1913 when our church opened the South Side Community Center for the then densely populated South Side.

“It was the first gym open to the public on the South Side. Many seniors stop and tell me about how they loved the gym when they were kids -- They used to call it “The Matchbox” because of its boxy shape! We hope the community at large will play a part in restoring it to a safe and usable condition.”

Work is scheduled to begin on the gym’s roof soon. If interested in making a tax-deductible donation to the South Side Presbyterian Church to assist with the repair to help meet the challenge, send a gift to South Side Presbyterian Church, 1926 Sarah Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203, and write “roof challenge” on the memo portion of your check or money order.

For more information on the challenge, services or future use of the gym or church’s other facilities, call the church at 412-431-0118.

The South Side Presbyterian Church holds services every Sunday at 11 a.m. All are welcome. 


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