(WBRE/WYOU-TV) Bringing cultures and community together that’s the aim of the Hazleton Integration Project. The center was the idea of Hazleton native and major league baseball manager Joe Maddon.

     And it’s now a bustling place of activity.  Eyewitness News Reporter Andy Mehalshick takes us there

From the day the doors opened at the Hazleton Integration Center, it’s been a place of constant activity.

  “We have been open for a little over 6 years already. and I can tell you, but the number of children who come through our doors numbers in the thousands.”

Bob Curry is founding President Of The Hazleton Integration Project.

He’s seen the project transform — from its humble start.. to a place where many in the Hazleton community visit every day.

  “First of all our mission statement is very clear. What we are is we are trying to offer cultural, education and athletic opportunities for economically disadvantaged children and families.”

The facility.. also known as the “Hazleton One Community Center” was the idea of Hazleton native and baseball manager Joe Maddon.

“I can’t over state it. it if was not for Joe And Jay Maddon this place would not exist.”

Maddon saw diversity dividing the community.

He thought.. a center would build a “bridge of understanding” — and unity — welcoming people of all backgrounds.

 Curry explains “The great thing about the center is we don’t care where anyone comes from, that’s not what we do. we are looking to provide some kind of boost for people.”

With Maddon’s guidance — and its dedicated staff — the center continues to grow..

  “I want them to know they have a place that they can come to find information,”  noted Rossanna Gabriel, Director of the HIP

That includes life-changing programs.. like citizenship classes.

And more than 600 people have taken e-s-l courses.

  “We have also have been very successful in running Spanish classes for English speakers.”

Curry notes the nation — and the world — are taking notice of the center’s success.

  “We had reporters come from all over the world come in here and say, gosh you took a very the different approach here. how is that working out for you?”

Curry says.. the future looks bright.

  “We are starting to come together as a community and that makes us really unique.”

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