With just over 2,000 people on a half square acre of land, Rankin is tiny. Yet despite its size, the borough’s reputation extends throughout the region. This is due in part to the good work of the Rankin Christian Center.
Founded in 1904 by the American Baptist Home Missionary Society, the Center was designed to serve as a one-stop shop for all the borough’s civic, social, medical, and spiritual needs. Originally the building included an auditorium, a gymnasium, and space for various social services including classrooms and physicians offices. Reverend Paul Sandusky, the Center’s current Executive Director, explains that initially the Center’s focus was on serving the waves of eastern European immigrants who were settling in the area. “After a day working in the mills or mines, they would come to this building to take a shower and attend English language classes,” he says. As the community evolved, the Center evolved in tandem, developing and implementing programs to address the changing needs.
Beginning in the 1990s, the Center’s focus has been on expanding its youth and senior support programs. The largest of these programs, the Mon Valley Supports Coordination Program provides support coordination and case management for 1,400 young people who have intellectual and mental disabilities. Darlene McGregor, Assistant Director and Program Director for the Supports coordination program says that the Center takes a holistic approach to care, collaborating with families, school districts, healthcare providers and employers to develop tailored support programs. “We may be providing services for an individual,” she says, “but we know that in order to be successful we have to work with the entire family as well as the community.”
Beyond this program, the center operates a food bank, provides fuel assistance, runs after school activities, and hosts an intergenerational senior program. Reverend Sandusky also mentions that in the near future the center is looking into expanding services into new areas and addressing emerging issues, such as the opioid crisis.
Despite a century of change, Reverend Sandusky is proud that the center has remained true to the spirit of its founders. “Our goal,” he says “is to help those from all denominations. Our doors are open to everyone and we aim, just as our founders did, to provide comprehensive social support and, if they are interested, spiritual support as well.”