The Jefferson DeFrees Family Center (JDFC) of Warren, PA is a community-centered, family-oriented, organization which strives to promote and encourage opportunities for all to grow through interaction, education, awareness, and recreation, serving the community since 1913. We operate an early learning and childcare center that is a Pennsylvania Keystone Stars 4 Center. We have a Fitness Center, gymnasium, and meeting rooms for various community and service groups. A fully furnished commercial kitchen is available. We are the local affiliate for the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Warren County, providing free books mailed to registered children, birth to age 5, in Warren County. We are an Identogo FBI fingerprinting enrollment center. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is a part of our organization. For the first 85 years, the JDFC was known as the YWCA.
For the first six years the Warren YWCA did not have a permanent home. That changed in 1919 when Mr. John Percival Jefferson offered his home at Second and Market to house the organization. This began the long and supportive relationship of J.P. Jefferson to the YWCA.
As the organization continued to grow, it was determined that an activities building was needed. In 1926, J.P. Jefferson paid for most of the construction cost of the building which currently houses the JDFC.
Pictured: 1945 Zonta Area Conference
The 1940’s were a busy time at the YWCA. A cafeteria that served lunch and dinners operated until 1958. The original house and dorm rooms in the activity building were used as residences for young women coming to live and work in Warren. Due to a decreased demand for dorm style housing and the age of the buildings, the residence program was eliminated in 1973.
To address the needs of the community, several new programs were initiated. In 1974 the fitness center was added to the activities building and is still in operation today. A Smart TV was added in 2020 to enhance the variety of workout opportunities. During the 1980s a Women’s Center which provided a hotline for victims of domestic violence was added. Eventually the Women’s Center became A Safe Place and moved into the local domestic violence shelter. The Community Resource Directory was a new project added in 1998. The Directory is a valuable tool that provides a listing of services available in both Warren and Forest Counties. Local agencies are provided updates for their master binders, and tri-fold brochures are provided for distribution to clients.
The JDFC has a history of providing high quality child care services. Child care began with a small preschool program for students with special needs in 1971. It developed into a small preschool operated in the 1980s. In addition to the preschool, the JDFC had a very active Y-Teen program where middle school age girls could come to the facility once per week to engage in socialization and perhaps make a craft. As more and more mothers went to work it was determined that the JDFC should offer an afterschool program. The afterschool program began in 1998.
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) program was added under the umbrella of the JDFC in 2004. CASA trains volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children who are involved with the local court system. The program is managed by an Executive Director.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Warren County was added to the JDFC in July 2018. Free books are mailed monthly to children under the age of 5 and living in Warren County. Funding for the books and the postage comes from donors and fundraising.
The JDFC is the local facility for FBI fingerprinting. Electronic fingerprints are captured and used for employment, certification, licensing and other verification purposes.
The JDFC is a busy place with the facility being used for meetings and special events. The Zonta Club of Warren and the Kiwanis consider the JDFC home as well as numerous AA meetings. Birthday parties and dinners are held here. The gym is filled evenings and weekends with pickleball, volleyball and basketball.