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Bedford YMCA raising funds for facility, programming expansions | State and Regional News

BEDFORD — The Bedford area family YMCA is raising money for programming and facility expansions to better meet identified community needs.

This is the third major capital campaign in the Bedford YMCA’s 40 years of existence, according to CEO and executive director Mary Jo Boone. The total fundraising goal to cover all projects is about $4 million.

“It’s a big dollar amount, but we’re hoping the community will support what we will be able to offer them,” Boone said.

Through a community needs assessment and hosting some focus groups, the YMCA identified several ways the community-oriented organization could better serve their area.

The YMCA already has developed seven of its 36 acres of land in previous expansion efforts, adding a soccer field and an outdoor stage to host family events. A splash pad also is being installed and is expected to be completed and opened by late August, Boone said — enough warm days left for people to enjoy it before the autumn chill.

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Further developments are required as additional needs are identified, however.

One of the current expansion projects is focused on renovating and growing the fitness/wellness center, Boone said. The Bedford YMCA partners with Centra Health, which uses the fitness area three days per week for some of their patient rehabilitation needs. Because Centra’s rehab program also is growing, in addition to regular membership usage, the Bedford YMCA’s fitness space is ultimately outgrown. The cost to expand and renovate the fitness space is about $2.5 million, Boone said.

Child care is another major need in Bedford County.

The Bedford YMCA currently offers after-school care at multiple public Bedford County elementary schools, as well as summer camps for elementary school-aged children, ranging from five to 12 years old, Boone said. The organization has a presence in multiple Bedford County elementary schools, as well as at the YMCA’s physical location. However, child care for younger kids in the infant through preschool age range — zero to five — is not a current offering but is deeply needed. This is where the Bedford YMCA’s child care expansion project is focused.

As many as 60 children up to age five could be served under the child care expansion plan. A structure to accommodate this addition has already been purchased, and contractors have been secured to do the work when the time comes, Boone said. The construction market has become extremely volatile with inflation and supply chain disruptions, but the organization estimates a total project cost of at least $1.5 million.

“The child care center, definitely we’re committed,” Boone said.

Up to 40 new employees could be hired if the child care expansion exceeds 60 preschool-aged kids, Boone said. She hopes to have this child care program up and running by next spring, but with many variables at play, there is no concrete completion date yet.

So far, the YMCA has raised $1 million of its $4 million goal for all the expansion projects, Boone said. With a combination of donations, an endowment from a deceased individual who left money in their will for the YMCA, business sponsorships, and grants, she hopes for another successful capital campaign. The organization will also seek any available county, town, and state funding available for the various projects.

The fundraising drive picked up in earnest over the past two weeks or so, and Boone said doors will be knocked on in the future as the campaign moves forward. Although fundraising for capital improvement projects technically began four years ago and $1 million was raised over that time, the organization is now concentrating those efforts on the child care and fitness/wellness center expansions.

“The community has always stepped up. We feel very blessed to be in a community that believes in what we do, and our mission, and that they’ll step up once again,” Boone said.

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