Today, it's the Racine Family YMCA. Or maybe just the Racine Family Y, since the organization recently opted for naming brevity, dropping those three final letters that stood in for Men's Christian Association since 1844 -- although the local organization's website still says Welcome to the Racine Family YMCA. The Y, of course, stands for Young.
But what will the Y be called in the future? The question popped up at the news conference Thursday at which the Y announced a $6 million donation from Diversey Inc. to build a new $12 million recreation and childcare Y facility west of downtown, alongside the Mount Pleasant Village Hall complex and just a stone's throw from Diversey's corporate headquarters on Highway 20.
A large sign, visible to all who attended the news conference, stood in the field where the new Y will be constructed. It proclaimed: Future Home of the Diversey Family YMCA.
What would you name the new Y?
Put your suggestions in the comments
As it turns out, the name may be the most visible aspect of SC Johnson involvement in the new Y, but certainly not the most significant. SCJ is helping the Y's fundraising campaign to raise the additional $5.5 million needed. And the company, well known for its many "green" initiatives, is providing its expertise -- and money -- to make sure the new Y is constructed "in accordance with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards."
Collen said that Scott Weas, a former senior property director for SCJ (he was project director for the Prairie School, among many other projects), is the Y's project director, but SCJ is paying his salary. "He's helping to lead us through this project, to keep us on track," said Collen. SCJ expertise, he said, will be instrumental "as we work with the architects and to make sure we get great pricing on materials, flooring, and so on."
SCJ involvement is most welcome to Y officials, whose strategic plan has long involved opening one or more facilities west into Racine County -- where the population is growing, unlike the city of Racine itself. Collen described "that first phone call" he received from SCJ in mid-March. "We started by talking about the possibility of this kind of thing happening. For us, it was really great how it fit into our strategic plan. And the timing!"
Y officials were also pleased with this intangible: "Here's a very major company with this amount of trust in us, knowing that the Y can do this, provide what they want and what the community wants."
Although Y officials had long wanted to expand, "there was absolutely no way we thought we could go out there and start something like this in this economy. We were 'on hold.' How could we raise $12 million without this kind of interest and commitment in the community?"
Why, exactly, does the Y need to expand to the west? Because that's where the people are. And because, even when we think about exercising and fitness, we're lazy. We demand convenience. Collen cites Walgreens as an example. "You would think they're every two miles; it's a huge convenience factor."
Besides its up-front donation, fundraising help and construction expertise, SCJ and Diversey are also offering the Y long-term financial support, by providing paid memberships to Diversey's 700 employees. If all take advantage of the perk, the ongoing sum is substantial. A family membership in the Y costs about $57.50 a month; the cost of 700 of them would top $450,000 a year.
Construction on the new Y is due to begin in Spring 2011; its opening date must be by Sept. 1, 2012, to accommodate Diversey's final separation from SC Johnson, and the end of its employees being able to use the JMBA recreation and childcare facility.
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