2018 in review

Girls on the Run coach Michelle Marlin, left, keeps pace with Izzie Droege and her father, Todd, during the spring 5k. Girls on the Run is one of the new programs started at the Hoerner YMCA in 2018.

A Year of Progress at the Hoerner YMCA

FROM THE DESK OF MARK SMIDT, CEO

   What a year 2018 has been at the Hoerner YMCA!
    In terms of both the building and the programs, the board and the staff have committed themselves to making the Hoerner YMCA an even more valuable asset to the community.
    The current building opened in 1975, and it has served our members and our citizens well. But it has needed some tender loving care for some years, and this past year, several major projects — and many more minor projects – have improved the facility.
    Among those projects are:
• $120,000 roof repair and fire alarm update. More than $81,000 was provided by a Rural YMCA Facility Improvement Grant, which is administered by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. The rest came from local donations from individuals and local foundations.
• $49,000 conversion to LED lights. Alliant Energy’s Small Business Energy Solutions program picked up slightly more than half of the cost of this improvement. Not only did the project result in a better lit interior, the projected energy savings convinced the board that it was an investment that made sense.
 $15,000 asphalt paving of the lower level parking lot. Handicapped access is that much easier, plus eliminating the gravel lot keeps the building and equipment much cleaner.
 The cardio room and the free weight room got a facelift with a fresh coat of paint in each. Members volunteered to provide the labor in the weight room, while members of the Keokuk Nazarene Church donated their time and treasure to brighten the Fitness Center.
• And there were many small projects that made a big difference, such as repairs to the ventilation fans that serve the lower level and the lockers and shower rooms; the repairs to the ventilation fans in the gym; air conditioner repairs; and such.

    Our building is key to serving the community. But the programs are at the heart of that service.

    And in 2018, we invested in several unique programs that benefit the community and further our mission. Some of those programs include:
• Teen Center. We’ve opened our doors to area teens after school, filling a much needed gap between school’s dismissal – especially on early-out days for Keokuk students – and the early evening hours when parents arrive home. Our close proximity to the Keokuk Middle School and Keokuk Senior High School puts us in a great position to meet this need. And in the coming year, a renovated room and expanded offerings will do more to help serve this need.
• Youth water safety classes. After several months of planning, we initiated a water safety program that was open – free of charge – to all third graders in the Keokuk public schools. The program was offered on Wednesdays when the schools dismiss early, and the schools partnered to provide transportation to the Y for the children. Janne Long devised the curriculum and spearheaded the program, and the Hawthorne PTO provided financial support. The goal in the coming year is to make the program available to more area children.
• Youth volleyball league. Our youth sports programs all have seen an increase in enrollment in the past year, but there was an obvious hole in the offerings: volleyball. So with the expertise and devotion of several key volunteers, 50 kids in first through sixth grades got their first taste of volleyball.
 Girls on the Run. We’ve run two seasons of the Girls on the Run program, which teaches life skills, confidence building, good decision making and the like to girls in the third through fifth grades while also incorporating a physical fitness component. And in the coming year we plan to add the equivalent program for boys.
• Educational seminars. Over the past year, we’ve partnered with UnityPoint-Keokuk, Advance Physical Therapy, Iowa State University Extension and others to bring a number of educational seminars to area residents. The most recent program, My Wellbeing, was an ISU program that examined financial, emotional and physical wellbeing.
• Family fun. This fall, we’ve sponsored two family fun days, encouraging parents to play with their children, engaging in some silly horseplay or building gingerbread houses. With the help of the Keokuk Public Library, we’ve offered Lego Days, where students get a chance to stretch their imaginations as much as their bodies.
 Fitness classes. And we’ve revived or added classes such as barre, Women on Weights, suspension training and more. And just after the first of the year, we’ll start a Body Blast class.

   All of this is a way of saying that the Hoerner YMCA is more than a gym. Our cause is strengthening the foundations of the community. And our focus is on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.
    We are blessed with a dedicated and caring staff. From the membership and program directors to the fitness instructors to the lifeguards and everyone in between, the staff has a huge heart for serving the community.

    None of this is possible without our members, our volunteers and the support of the community. As a non-profit charitable organization, we rely on these good people to help us serve our community and further our mission.

    In the coming year, you’ll see more exciting things happening at the Hoerner YMCA. We’ll complete a remodeling of the Teen Center, and we’ll renovate the gym, thanks in part to a recent grant from the Grace Bott Millar Charitable Foundation.
    And I have no doubt that there are other even bigger, more impactful projects and programs in the days ahead. Come see the good things happening at the Hoerner YMCA and, as we serve the community and those in need, I invite you to exercise your heart in more ways than one.