During the winter of 1989, two teen siblings decided to start a rock band. With one on the drums, and the other on the electric guitar, they quickly rallied their friends so that their duo turned into to seven member band. Mrs. Morgan, the siblings’ mother, was a Lewisburg Borough Council Member and local attorney. She wanted to encourage her children to develop musically, but after two practices in her dining room, Mrs. Morgan’s support began to dwindle. It didn’t change the fact that she wanted to be a “cool” mom, so she offered the kids one of her inactive investment properties, a storage building that wasn’t located near a lot of housing. More importantly, it wasn’t in her house.
The group of young musicians worked to clean up the space and a community center was started. Over the next few years, the building was used as a showcase for local teen bands and a practice hall for many local young artists. They even built a 1/4 pike skate ramp for the youth who liked to bike, skate board, or roller blade.
In 1991, there was an unfortunate incident in Lewisburg. A 12-year-old boy was found with a hand gun at a local park. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but the Chief of Police, Donald Heiter, was disturbed by the situation. As a leader and problem solver in the community, he didn’t blame the child or anyone else for the situation. He gathered the local community leaders and challenged them to stop this from happening again.
He asked one very important question: “What are kids in this area allowed to do?” He noted that youth were not allowed out after dark without a parent, were not allowed to ride bikes on sidewalks, were not allowed to skate, ride bikes, or rollerblade in public parks, and were not allowed to socialize on Market Street. He explained that most parents in the community needed two incomes, so the youth and children were not going home to a stay-at-home parent. He again posed the question, “What are kids allowed to do?”
The group was not happy about the pressure that was placed on them to facilitate change, and they wanted desperately to blame someone for what had happened instead. Chief Heiter listened to their concerns, but didn’t back down from his views. Mrs. Morgan supported Chief Heiter’s opinions, and after many community meetings, she rallied the youth who had been using her storage space and offered them a safe opportunity to give honest feedback to the community leaders.
Because of that dialogue, the Donald L. Heiter Community Center was founded on August 11, 1993. Organized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in accordance with the IRS guidelines, the Center formed a Board of Directors, created standard operating procedures, planned a budget, and developed a mission statement. Today, that statement reads:
The Donald L. Heiter Community Center is a non-profit organization, which strives to be the hub of the community activity by providing innovative and responsive programs, welcoming facilities to house multigenerational activities, coordinating diverse community resources, addressing community needs, and supporting the wellness of all its people.
Today, a large focus for the Community Center is children and youth ages 5-13 years old. Through after school programs, activities, and summer youth programs, the Center works to promote healthy self-esteem, peer relationships, independence, adventure and exploration, leadership, environmental awareness, friendship skills, values and decision making skills, and social comfort.