This year, the Burlington Area YMCA was awarded $100,000 for renovations through the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund.
The Burlington Area YMCA staff was proud to show off its recently renovated facility to a number of guests Thursday morning, including Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg.
Although the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association) has operated in Burlington since 1876, it has been housed in its current building on Mt. Pleasant Street since 1974.
Based on feedback gathered by the local YMCA in a 2014 community needs assessment, CEO Gina Crabtree said the Burlington Area YMCA recognized the need for "more community spaces for youths and adults to socialize and more non-physical activities."
To make its wish-list projects a reality, then-CEO Andy Dahl applied for grant money through the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund. As a result, in May 2016 the YMCA was awarded a $100,000 Rural YMCA Facility Improvement grant — the highest amount given to YMCAs that operate in communities of no more than 28,000 residents.
To fulfill its obligations for the funding, the Burlington Area YMCA had to match the grant at 50 percent, which it was able to meet through fundraising and endowment funds that totaled $50,000.
With the money they created a new "youth zone," a childcare area and community lounge.
"It is exactly how we intended the money to be used for and the spaces to be used for," Crabtree said of the grant.
With the enhanced space, Crabtree said the YMCA has expanded its Friday night youth program to include over 200 participants.
"It's a safe, positive atmosphere that's supervised," she said. "We are so excited about the improvements and renovations that we've made here."
Alyssa Stewart, president of the Burlington Area YMCA board of directors, said her six-year-old son has been excitedly telling her about new games and activities in the youth area.
"From our perspective, it's been so cool to see," Stewart said. "We can say, what a great job, this looks great, this is helping us. And then when I hear it from his mouth, it makes you feels good that we know our impact is at the child level almost all the time. You can come workout here, but what we look for on the board is to support the kids in our area."
During Reynolds and Gregg's visit they were given a tour of the YMCA and heard from other area YMCA directors who need grant money to make improvements at their facilities.
Ryan Wilson, executive director of the Fort Madison Family YMCA, said he hoped to expand their 30,000 square-foot facility into the empty lot next door in order to add another gym, walking track and additional space for children.
Mark Smidt, CEO of the Hoerner YMCA in Keokuk, said they will apply for grant funds to resurface four leaking roofs and install a new fire alarm system.
"We like to say quite a bit that 'Y' facilities tend to be well loved and well worn," said Craig Hanken, executive director of the Iowa Alliance of the YMCA. "We're all about filling gaps, finding needs of the community and sometimes that takes precedence over extra new paint for the walls or updating facilities. So these funds have been really fantastic for our associations across the state."
On Saturday, the Burlington Area YMCA will host a "Renovation Celebration" to show the public new spaces at the facility.
From 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. the public is invited to the YMCA, 2410 Mt. Pleasant Street, for complimentary food, activities, door prizes, fitness class demonstrations and tours of the facility.
Savings on new memberships will be available, in addition to a chance to win a free family membership.