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Our Mission

The George Washington Carver Community Center is committed to enhancing the quality of life of the citizens of Norristown through its recreation, social and cultural programs. Integral to the fulfillment of this mission is our commitment to involve public officials, parents, professionals and other citizens in the planning and development of the Center and its programs. The Carver Center embraces the belief that community issues are best addressed by people with a true commitment to the community through their residence, professional affiliation or other personal relationship with the community.


History: 1944 - 1960

The George Washington Carver Community Center (GWCCC) offers diversified programs to youth, adults, and families to stimulate personal development, which in turn foments community advancement and growth.


In 1948, The George Washington Carver Community Center was incorporated in response to a tragedy within the community. On July 5, 1944, Stanley A. "Junior" McClennon, Jr.; Mary Johnson; Elaine Baptiste; and Edna and Lillian Pennington went swimming in the "King's Bathtub," a swimming hole located behind the Norristown State Hospital. Norristown's African American community frequented this area because Norristown's public swimming facilities were at that time race restricted.


Misfortune struck when Mary, the only one of the group in the water at the time, became caught in an undercurrent; she went under at least three times. Junior jumped in to rescue Mary; however, he only knew how to "doggie-paddle," a skill he had learned at Boy Scout camp. Junior's valiant rescue attempt failed: that afternoon, both children tragically lost their lives.


The death of these two children prompted Norristown's African American community to organize a grassroots fundraising effort to build a facility where they could safely swim and enjoy other recreational activities.


The facility was completed on May 30, 1960, and dedicated to the memory and spirit of George Washington Carver, the world-renowned agricultural chemist, educator, and inventor who freely gave of himself for the benefit of mankind.


"He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world."

- Epitaph on the grave of George Washington Carver


The spirit of George Washington Carver was reflected not only in the courage and selflessness of Junior, who perished that day in 1944, but also the caring and sense of community imparted by all those whose contributions helped create the current facility.


Today, the GWCCC continues to be a mainstay in the greater Norristown area. It has evolved from its origins as a recreational center to become a critical part of the social-services fabric of Norristown. Norristown is home to approximately 35,000 residents, almost evenly distributed among the African American (35%), White (32%), and Hispanic (28%) communities. The low-income residents of Norristown face many issues and problems, and the resources available to resolve them are very limited. The GWCCC provides a facility and the programmatic structure for programs and opportunities that address residents' needs and improve their quality of life. In pursuing its mission, the GWCCC will stand at the vanguard of Norristown's revitalization.


The GWCCC pursues its mission by hosting, coordinating, and providing programs and activities that empower the community to achieve both social consciousness and economic self-sufficiency. The Center addresses issues and needs such as youth and adult recreation, leadership development, health advocacy, community safety and crime prevention, financial literacy, political awareness, neighborhood improvement, police-community partnership, and family social services.

Meet Our Staff & Board

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