The Clarion County YMCA has announced a Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to be held on Thursday, January 31, 2019 at 10:00 am. The New Clarion County YMCA will officially open to the public at 11 am. Tours will be provided throughout the day.
Formally announced two years ago at a press conference, the campaign generated $7.5 million in gifts from community members and businesses and $4 million in Pennsylvania RACP (Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program) Grants.
“Our ancestors understood that they were building a community and molding its culture for generations to come,” said Campaign Co-Chair Al Lander. “They passed it onto us as trustees for the next generation. Today we walk on the stage of life and we stand shoulder-to-shoulder and eye-to-eye with our ancestors. This is a proud moment for all of us."
Located centrally in Clarion County on a 6.8-acre site adjacent to the Clarion Oaks Golf Course near I-80, the project fills the needs of Clarion County.
The new YMCA includes a family pool providing lap lanes, recreation and exercise, swimming lessons, aqua aerobics, and other activities. A rehabilitation partnership will also offer water therapy.
The 40,000+ square foot facility will also include:
- Full service wellness center outfitted with cardiovascular and resistance training equipment, free-weights, and group exercise studios.
- Full gymnasium with a separate running/walking track.
- Office space for outpatient rehabilitation.
- Outdoor athletic field.
- Administrative space with offices, conference rooms, work stations and kitchen.
- Multi-purpose rooms to support seniors in the mornings and children and teens after school.
- Support spaces, including lobby, reception, men’s and women’s locker rooms, family locker rooms, bathrooms, and storage.
- Full-day Child Care Center for Children age 6 weeks to 12 years old
The current rented facility has served the community well over the last 17 years, but offers only 10,000 square feet and can no longer meet the needs of the YMCA’s growing membership.
More than Swim and Gym
In addition to the impressive home of the new facility, the YMCA also will be the first and only public, not-for-profit organization, to provide the following community benefits:
- Improved resident access to health and wellness programs.
- Expanded community partnerships to advance healthy living and daily exercise including access to an indoor walking track and aquatic therapy for our senior population.
- Attract and retain a talented and qualified workforce so that businesses can fill over 100 available positions.
- Expand learn to swim programs to all children in the region through partnerships with local school districts.
- Lower business costs for health insurance and workers compensation by supporting healthier lifestyles.
Clarion County YMCA Becomes a Community of Volunteers
The Clarion County YMCA facility becomes a reality after 25 years of evolution, after 25 years of planning, and after 25 years of volunteers joining together to share ideas.
Beginning with humble fundraising efforts to outfit the current facility, to evolving into a capital campaign of almost $11 million, the Clarion County YMCA has journeyed from a Y without walls, to a rented warehouse, to the reality of the full-service facility. Once simply an idea and a single office without facilities, it is now a community center with over 82,000 visits each year including 1,300 members.
Tom Spence, chief executive officer of the Scenic Rivers YMCA, remembers the start of the Clarion County YMCA and its dramatic growth in the last 20 years.
“In 2002 when I became CEO, there was some consideration by the corporate board of closing the then small Clarion operation,” said Spence. “Joe Ferguson helped the Y regain their footing by forgiving some of the back rent and board members Eric Funk, Norb Baschnagel, Larry Schmader, and others needed to raise over $26,000 to keep the Y up and running. They not only raised the money, they did it in less than six weeks.”
Spence credits the early struggle and effort by Schmader, Baschnagel and Funk in helping to lead the YMCA and was pivotal money in its history as it grew in financial stability and membership.
Once a small group of volunteers, the Y has now grown into a community of volunteers.
“In the early 1990’s a community-minded group of local citizens set out to charter a Clarion County YMCA and build a full-service facility,” said Lander. “Their efforts paused after raising a few thousand dollars. Their efforts were followed by several other groups who met the same fate. I expect that they all believed they had failed. In looking back we now understand that they did not fail, they succeeded. What we understand now, that they did not know then is we had to build the institution first, and the building and facilities to house the institution would come later.
“Twenty five years of struggle grew into the institution. Each group brought in more community-minded members and expanded the team. The institution expanded and grew, defined itself and then re-defined itself. Finally the institution reached critical mass in size, talent, energy and commitment. The team of volunteers looked about and said consciously or unconsciously the time has arrived. We will build a full-service facility to house the institution.
“The road we traveled is not unlike the road traveled by our ancestors. Churches began in homes of our ancestors and as the institution expanded and grew, defined itself then re-defined itself, a church was built to house the institution. They passed them onto us as trustees for the next generation. Today we walk on the stage of life and we stand shoulder to shoulder and eye to eye with our ancestors.
Scenic Rivers YMCA
The YMCA would like to recognize Al Lander and Milissa Bauer, co-chairs of the Clarion County YMCA Capital Campaign as well as the volunteers and donors who have made this project possible.
The Scenic Rivers YMCA includes the Oil City YMCA, Clarion County YMCA and Camp Coffman. The association is governed by the Scenic Rivers YMCA Corporate Board of Directors and the Clarion County YMCA Board of Managers. The organization is operated by Thomas K. Spence, CEO and Gerritt Rex, CVO.