Insiders said the buzz in the community about the new facility, scheduled for a “soft” opening Aug. 16, is palpable.
“We’ve been getting calls all day long every day — there’s a lot of excitement about this YMCA,” said Winston Myers, Wade Walker YMCA executive director.
“From all the calls and walk-ins, you can tell the community is very excited … it has not been a hard sell so far.”
Myers and staff are currently conducting business out of temporary offices across the street from the facility, a 57,000-square foot edifice soaked in YMCA aesthetics and nestled in Wade Walker Park environs.
Management’s days at present there are marked by the hiring and training of staff — 110 employees in all.
“We’re going to be a huge employer for the community,” Myers said.
“Young people are counselors, coaches, referees, lifeguards and child watch attendants. Even though, [YMCA] might not be their primary choice, at least it’ll be a great proving ground to develop job skills to prepare them for any job they may want in the future.”
Behind-the-scenes work in preparation for the new YMCA’s opening also includes coordinating with equipment vendors — to outfit the facility with equipment and furniture — as well as soliciting commitments to join the multi-use space. Generating 5,000 memberships within the first couple years of its operation is the goal.
Wade Walker Park Family YMCA is expected to offer a full slate of core programming and services — including sports, child care and after school offerings — by Sept. 1, Myers said.
“This facility will fall in line with the three YMCA [principles of emphasis] of youth development, wellness and strengthening the community,” he said. “We’ll have premier health programs, including those focusing on health education, and we’ll assist and support teens through tutoring, mentorship and what have you.”
Wade Walker Park Family YMCA will host an opening reception Sept. 12, followed by the grand opening Sept. 15.
“We’re going to be very altruistic as far as being a community asset,” Myers said. “We are going to support breast cancer [research], fitness for kids and provide social programs — toys for kids at Christmas, jackets for children and so on.”