“People spend time at work or at school and at home. But they need a third place to gather, to make new friends and be part of a community… The YMCA is that third place,” said Tom Tingle, CVO of YMCA of the Virginia Peninsulas. YMCAs are the center of their communities, he noted, and the Richmond County branch is preparing to better serve in that role.

Last Wednesday, the Richmond County Family YMCA turned the soil on its Fitnasium and renovation project, which has attracted nearly $600,000 in donor support.

At the ceremony, members of the Richmond County JROTC presented the flag and children from the YMCA’s pre-school program led the audience in the pledge of allegiance and in prayer with help from Reverend Leslie of Warsaw Baptist Church.

“What a nice reminder for why we’re doing this,” said Reverend Stephen Taylor, chair of the Richmond County YMCA advisory board, referring to the children.

When the YMCA started in 1996, it was committed to delivering safe, healthy and fun programs for young people, but the YMCA has expanded to offer programs that impact people of all ages, explained Greg White, chair of the capital campaign committee.

“Despite expanding and making changes over the years, one thing that remains the same is the YMCA continues to listen to the community,” he added. And “this new facility expansion and renovation we’re embarking on today will enable our Y to provide increased and better services and make it possible to implement additional programs on-site that the community has been asking the Y to provide.”

The Fitnasium will create opportunities for basketball, pickleball, indoor soccer and other recreational activities..

Interior renovations will increase and enhance gathering spaces, and the wellness center will be redesigned with an open plan to create a more unified and inviting feeling. Further, the group exercise studio will be improved and a new line of strength equipment will be added. 

In 2019, the YMCA’s board of directors outlined three priorities—to strengthen its brand, to build the capacity to expand its reach and to deepen its impact. 

“This project that we’re breaking ground on today will enable our YMCA to do all three of those really important things in the community,” said Adam Klutts, CEO of YMCA of the Virginia Peninsulas.

The speakers emphasized that the project would not have been possible without the work of those who served on the capital campaign, the volunteers and the donors. 

“You have people who really care about this community. In my twenty-six years with the Y, I’ve rarely seen a group of people that have come together to make something happen literally on their own,” said Klutts.

Stan Terhune, a member of the capital campaign, recognized Carolyn Packett and Susan McFadden for giving the local brand something to expand and build upon. “I remember them going back to the origin of this Y and starting it from absolutely nothing. And what a great asset it has turned out to be for this community,” he said.

Packett recalled the days when the Richmond County Family YMCA was just a vision. Then, a tractor equipment supply building was converted, making the branch a reality. 

“I’m so grateful that we have never lost vision of what we can do in the future,” she said. “But we’re not done yet. We have more to do. And I believe there’s a lot of ways we can serve our community,” she added, suggesting the latest project is milestone, not the Y’s final act.

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