by Jennifer Noel, photography by Bill Ryan
Potential. A single word can sum up the new South Hanover YMCA. With a brand new, state of the art facility, members can continue to take advantage of all the programs that the YMCA has to offer as the organization fulfills its mission “to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all.”
It did not take long after its grand opening in mid-May for members to flood the new facility. Just days after the ribbon cutting ceremony, classes were filling-up fast, teams were practicing, and exercise enthusiasts were testing the new equipment.
“The biggest benefit for the Y and our community is being able to give the south side of Hanover and Carroll County areas a place that they can utilize for different areas of their lives,” explained Melissa Foreman, Marketing Director. “We offer so many exclusive programs that other local gyms do not customize for an individual’s needs.”
Foreman, along with Chief Operating Officer, Ryan Fitzgibbons, have both worked at the Hanover YMCA for just over a year. While Foreman has been a long-time resident of the area, Fitzgibbons is a newcomer. Both Foreman and Fitzgibbons have a corporate background, so they offer a fresh take on the member experience.
“Never Stop Getting Better”
The new South Hanover facility touts an impressive resume of offerings. Aside from the facility providing 24/7 access, cycling classes are working out on equipment similar to those seen in classes held in New York City.
The greatest addition, however, is the 37,000 square foot indoor turf field which will serve baseball, soccer, lacrosse, flag football, field hockey, kickball, and sports and agility training. The banners that hang in the field house, which Fitzgibbons personally chose, promote community interaction and inspiration.
Indoor turf fields will also allow tournaments to be held on site, rain or shine. Because no other facility in the area offers this type of access, Fitzgibbons expects a rise in multiple sports programs taking advantage of the accommodations.
“The new South Complex will be the sports and athletics hub, our North will remain our flagship location and is also home to our world class aquatics and gymnastics center and our accredited Early Learning Center,” explained Foreman. “Our Littlestown location serves the Littlestown area in addition to allowing us to integrate our Y Sports programs, Fit and Strong Youth Training Programs, and Healthier You program into the school systems.”
But perhaps the most significant transformation is not visible by simply visiting the new location; it is what’s happening throughout the community that is helping the YMCA to reestablish their position as a leader among nonprofits.
The YMCA as an organization has its roots in philanthropy; a foundation that Fitzgibbons hopes becomes more recognizable in the community.
“This facility was built by the community, and we want to reinvest in them,” explained Fitzgibbons. “We can be a premier facility and also help those in need.”
Most recently, the YMCA has partnered with New Hope Ministries and Hoffman Homes for Kids. The new facility will also host family dinner nights with community partners throughout the year.
The Kids Come First Support Campaign helps raise scholarship money and financial aid for children and families who would benefit from the YMCA’s services but may not be financially able to afford them. Through benefits such as silent auctions and golf outings, as well as personal donations from community members, the campaign was able to provide over 1,800 scholarships in 2016.
“We want our programs to be accessible and affordable,” added Fitzgibbons. “It makes me proud that our staff is excited to take on this role in the community.”
Programs Change Lives
With its focus on the community, the YMCA also offers several programs for youth and adults to obtain and maintain healthier lifestyles, most notably the LIVESTRONG program.
LIVESTRONG at the YMCA is a “12 week research based program that supports cancer survivors in regaining their physical, emotional and spiritual strength.”
Dana Alexander, Sports and Personal Training Director, has overseen the program since its implementation at the Hanover Area YMCA in 2014.
“The most beneficial part of the LIVESTRONG program is that participants have a support group that are interested in getting fit and strong,” noted Alexander. “When life throws us the most difficulty set of circumstances, it is awesome to see such an inspirational response to these unfortunate circumstances.”
With at least 8 LIVESTRONG trainers on staff, participants have the opportunity to participate in physical rehabilitation as well as time to share personal experiences and reflect on the day’s blessings.
The YMCA will host a LIVESTRONG Half Marathon on October 1, 2017. All proceeds from the race will benefit the program in order to cover lifetime membership fees for those individuals who graduate from the 12 week program.
Alexander shared the story of one participant who was bed-ridden prior to coming to the program because of illness and depression. However, the LIVESTRONG changed all of that.
“She tells me that [the program] gave her her life back,” Alexander explained. “She felt so loved, inspired and welcomed. She met new friends, increased her strength, and began to see the positives again in her life.”
Fit and Strong is a program which targets athletes in the 8-18 age range. Sessions are built on strength, speed and agility, athletic performance, conditioning, and of course fun, as well as character development.
“We also have a mobile Fit and Strong unit that will enable us to reach further into the community with this program and have more of an impact on the lives of kids in this age group,” noted Alexander.
Focusing on the entire individual, mind, body, and soul, no matter the age or background, allows numerous programs to encourage fitness as well as fellowship. The wall inside the front doors of the South Hanover facility says it all: “go after your goals.” For both patrons and staff, the goal seems clear: be part of something great together.
“We are paying attention; people are worthy, our kids are worthy, if we can make an impact, why shouldn’t we?” added Fitzgibbons.