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Norma Pompey - Keeping rec center open is her aim

April 23, 2006|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

At the Memorial Recreation Center in Hagerstown, "it's time for a face-lift," Norma Pompey said. "You can't expect everything to hold up."

But a scarcity of money gets in the way.

Pompey, the program director, called last year's budget of about $22,000 "very low."

So, the pingpong table with the worn-away edge and the pool table with a warped cue stick and a noticeably chipped ball will have to last for now.

Pompey's aim is to do what her mother, Ruth Monroe, did for many years: keep the center going.

"It's a place that's been in the community - well, it's always been here," Pompey said. "Before we moved in, it was the first black Negro school. Then, it was the black YMCA."

The Memorial Recreation Center's free program serves about 20 to 30 children each day it's open - more on gym nights.

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Pompey said the center provides children with board games, jump-ropes and tables for pingpong and pool.

They get lessons in cooking.

If they need it, they get help with their homework.

They use the pool.

Monroe became the center's director in about 1980 and stayed on until she was too sick to continue. She died of cancer in October 2005 at the age of 64.

Pompey, 48, served as interim director for about a year, trying to make sure the center remained viable.

She already had worked at the center for about 25 years - 15 as a volunteer, then 10 as a staff member.

The center's board is looking for a permanent director because she isn't interested in the job.

Pompey, the oldest of six siblings, said the center always has been part of her family, either as a place to play or to support their mother's work.

"We were helping out whenever she needed us," she said.

Pompey, who also works part time as a receptionist at a Hagerstown doctor's office, said the center is important to the community, partly because of its location.

Some local parents consider the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County on Pennsylvania Avenue to be "on the other side of the railroad tracks," too far for their children to walk on their own, Pompey said.

In another concession to cutbacks, the center now is open three days a week; it used to be open five days.

"I'm just trying to keep these doors open," she said.

Q&A

Name - Norma Pompey

Address - Hagerstown

Date of birth - Jan. 3, 1958

Occupation - Program director of Memorial Recreation Center in Hagerstown, receptionist for Dr. Massoud Alizadeh in Hagerstown

Most notable achievement - Going back to school and getting my phlebotomy license. Phlebotomy is the practice of drawing blood.

Your proudest moment - My two sons walking across the stage (for graduation). One son, Aubrey Keyes, is 20 years old; the other, Jacqmel Keyes, is 28.

Who is the person you most admire and why? - My mother, Ruth Monroe. Her mother died in October.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received? Who gave it to you - Her mother, Ruth Monroe. She gave us goals to set and also proved to us that whatever we set our minds to do, we could do - not only for our kids, but for kids in the community.

What is the next goal you would like to achieve? - Owning my own home.

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