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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • First year a success for YMCA

  • Since the Dodge City Family YMCA opened its doors in January, it has almost completed $250,000 in renovations and equipment purchases, beat enrollment expectations and is gearing up to continue improvements for years to come.
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  • Since the Dodge City Family YMCA opened its doors in January, it has almost completed $250,000 in renovations and equipment purchases, beat enrollment expectations and is gearing up to continue improvements for years to come.
    This year it added a child care, a short-term child watch room, an aerobics room and $75,000 in new equipment, including table games like child-size pool, ping pong and foosball.
    On Nov. 14, the YMCA will reveal its fitness room expansion, adding some breathing space between new exercise equipment. Soon after it will open its new aerobics room complete with stationary bikes for spin classes in a renovated space that was once a storage attic.
    Then, on Nov. 21 at 7 a.m., the YMCA will celebrate its donors and its year of relatively smooth going at a breakfast where it will reveal room naming rights and the Founder's Wall, a token of gratitude to those that helped the Y exceed the center's $1.25 million fundraising goal last year.
    "I'm blown away by the support," said Chad Knight, CEO of YMCA of Southwest Kansas, which has a nearly 50-year-old branch in Garden City. "Yeah, there's a lot of buzz and a lot of excitement when it's new — now, we're 10, 11 months in and we're still getting new people, new members."
    By the end of the year the center hoped to have 2,000 members and 1,000 "paying units," Y parlance that distinguishes total member from paying households. It has exceeded that number of members and expects to beat the payer goal more than a month early, cutting $60,000 of loss from the accounts ledger.
    The real test will be maintaining this momentum, Knight said, as the Dodge City branch transitions to a traditional YMCA funding model where up to 65 percent of revenue comes from membership fees, program fees pull up to 35 percent and donations fill the rest.
    Currently, the YMCA is operating under a four-year plan with a target enrollment of 2,000 paying members. Until then, operational costs are subsidized by the city, which is covering a portion of personnel costs, and by drawing money from last year's donation drive. In 2016, the YMCA will no longer receive city funding.
    Knight says YMCAs should be community-supported, relying on volunteers and some donations, but not government-supported. That means while it would be nice if every city could have a Y, it might not be able to sustain a Y.
    The Dodge City YMCA will be a bit different than most. When the YMCA took over the Sheridan Activity Center at the beginning of the year, it did so under a 25-year agreement that essentially outsourced the city's recreation department, though with city employees paid through a contract with the YMCA of Southwest Kansas.
    It also means the YMCA will operate programs, like adult sports leagues, that aren’t necessarily associated with family YMCAs around the country. The agreement also gives the city some oversight over the operation of the YMCA and most work it does inside the former Sheridan Activity Center.
    Page 2 of 2 - "The city's been a great partner through this whole ordeal," Knight said, though there have been a few snags. Some plans for programming were nixed at the request of the city, he said, and the YMCA learned it couldn't start a fundraiser for its youth football league this year.
    "That's about it" as far as complications with the city, Clifford said, saying it's been a smooth transition. He said it makes more sense for the YMCA and the city to work together rather than compete to provide the same services.
    "It's had its challenges," he said, "but staff has responded well and risen to those challenges."
    Ultimately he thinks the YMCA is a good fit for Dodge City, as the organization's core values align with the goals of the city's recreation department: the promotion of healthy living, social responsibility and development of youth.

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