The West Suburban YMCA will open a second location in the City of Newton in the fall of 2022 following a $3 million donation. The second site will offer greater access to recreational and health services for community members.
“For a number of years, part of our strategic plan has been to evaluate opportunities where parts of our community are underserved, meaning they have more difficult access to our programs and services,” Jack Fucci, president and CEO of the West Suburban YMCA, said.
Fucci saw 135 Wells Ave. as a great space to fulfill the goal of expanding access to recreation for Newton residents.
“We’ve always been monitoring the south side of the city, and in recent years, it has grown exponentially,” he said. “This opportunity arose as a perfect fit for [a] location for a Y, … and we were able to work out an agreement and a favorable purchase for opening up a second branch.”
The YMCA purchased the property with the help of a $3 million donation from a family in Newton., the largest in the history of the organization, Fucci said. Fucci said the donation is the largest in the West Suburban YMCA’s 144-year history. The family also encouraged others to support the YMCA so that it is affordable to members while still providing a successful renovation and stable facilities, according to Fucci.
The renovated site will include 61,000 square feet of space with a new four-lane swimming pool, indoor track, and multi-purpose recreation center, according to the website.
The donation is also significant for many staff and community members.
“We have many amazing people flying under the radar in our building all the time,” said Kelly Barker, director of aquatics at the West Suburban YMCA. “The generous gift is a reflection of how passionate our members are about our Y and the fantastic work that is being done here on a daily basis.”
Barker described working at the YMCA as a rewarding experience that has allowed her to form lasting bonds with staff and members and teach them valuable skills like swimming and safety training.
Everyday members are also anticipating the opening of the branch location, and continue to see the Y as a community meeting place.
Beth Berman, a West Newton resident who has been going to the West Suburban YMCA for over 10 years, said she has met incredible people and participated in a number of enjoyable programs at the YMCA.
Berman said the interactions with YMCA staff and fellow members make going to the YMCA enjoyable. As a participant in eight fitness classes a week and a volunteer with the Livestrong program, which helps cancer survivors with physical fitness, Berman said she sees the YMCA as a social gathering place rather than just another gym.
Fucci said that his main concerns about the new building are supply issues, which most companies faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as labor shortages.
He also said, however, that most people have been reinvigorated to exercise and gather together as the pandemic enters an endemic stage.This trend is especially true for middle-aged and elderly residents who want to prevent illness and stay strong, according to Fucci.
Fucci said he has complete faith in the ability of the YMCA to unite people and serve as a community hub.
“I just think the Y in general is a fabulous place for people who are fighting stuff—cancer, obesity, diabetes, depression, heart disease, comorbidities, all that kind of stuff,” Berman said. “It’s just so helpful for everyone’s wellbeing, mentally and physically.”
Featured Image Courtesy of West Suburban YMCA