Editorial : A journey for a Y
Some Islanders will remember swimming instructor Ann Mechur speaking with the parents of her charges about the need for a community swimming center. Those conversations may have occurred as long as a decade and a half ago. This week, that spark of an idea, kept alight over many years by a changing but ever determined group of swim center supporters, has led to the beginnings of a grand enterprise. The decision by members of the board of directors of the Vineyard YMCA to begin next month the construction of a 40,000-square-foot community facility, which will include an aquatic center, but include a great deal more as well, is indeed the courageous, penultimate step toward the realization of a what began as a modest wish. Chuck Hughes, the president of the board, described his colleagues' decision in those terms, and who would say he is mistaken?
And, who can help but marvel at the perseverance and vision of those determined volunteers that brought the Y to this beginning? Mr. Hughes allowed as how there remain a "few more hurdles" to get over. And, indeed there are. They include more than $2 million of fundraising yet to be done, and annual fundraising to help a $2 million endowment supplement operating revenues for such an extensive community center, whose portfolio includes something for young and old. The planning and development of this project have been an enormous undertaking. The continued need for funds will, we suspect, be a never-ending challenge. The operating demands of such a large and extensive facility, on such a small and economically limited Island, will be unrelenting. So much hard work is behind this remarkable board of Y builders, and so much hard work remains ahead.
And, all of it on our behalf.
As they have propelled development of the plans for the new YMCA, the leaders of the Y effort have operated a collection of community programs for several years, including an after-school program, a teen center, a summer camp for young people in grades K-8, a self-esteem building program for boys and girls 11-14 years of age, and a senior aerobics program at the Woodside Village housing complex for older Islanders. These programs will be consolidated in the new Y, which will include a wellness center, the aquatic center, a teen center, a child watch area and a program of supervision for the children of parents using the Y, outdoor play and camp areas, a café, and community meeting rooms. Features of the complete project, but not to be built in the first construction phase, include a gymnasium, additional lockers, meeting rooms, and a climbing wall.
The Y plans a series of events this spring and summer to continue its fundraising efforts. The energy and enthusiasm of the long-distance runners in this effort of more than a decade have certainly not diminished, but the moment has arrived for that energy and enthusiasm to be supplemented by you, the beneficiaries of all this hard work.