The YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne has received more than $2.2 million to continue its mission of helping communities in an enduring and meaningful way.
The money will be used for branches in Wells, Whitley and Allen counties, said Marty Pastura, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne.
A $1 million gift from the English Bonter Mitchell Foundation will trigger a $10 million campaign for the construction of a YMCA facility in northeast Allen County.
“It’s a nice way to begin our campaign,” Pastura said of the donation.
Two years ago, the YMCA bought 25 acres on St. Joe Road, near Reed and Maplecrest roads, with plans to build a 70,000-square-foot family center.
The facility will be called the Jackson R. Lehman Family YMCA.
Tentative plans have construction starting in a year, with an operation date of late 2015 or early 2016, Pastura said.
“It all depends on funding,” he said.
The board of directors decided to name the center after Lehman, who was “a wonderful advocate and supporter of the YMCA,” Pastura said.
Lehman served on the YMCA board of directors several times and was instrumental in foundation grant work, Pastura said. He died in November.
The new center will be similar to the Jorgensen branch on Aboite Center Road and the Parkview branch on Dawsons Creek Boulevard, just off Dupont Road, he said.
“We are not just another place to work out,” he said. “Part of our mission is to put Christian principles in practice. We are focused on improving the health and wellness of the community – spirit, mind and body,” Pastura said.
Another $1 million gift from Dekko Foundation will help fund a $2.2 million expansion at the Whitley County YMCA in Columbia City.
The Whitley County Community Foundation gave $150,000 toward the project.
The 14,000-square-foot expansion will house an Early Learning Center, complete with a gym, playground, offices and a classroom for school-aged children. Children will also have access to amenities such as the pool, climbing wall and gymnastics equipment.
The branch added the early learning child-care program in 2012 in response to a critical community need for licensed full-day child care, Pastura said.
“The most important reason we do these things is to strengthen the foundation of the community,” Pastura said. “The community came to us and told us this was a critical need.”
New Hope Wesleyan Church in Columbia City has provided a temporary location for the program until the expansion is completed.
The Early Learning Center will serve about 85 children – 22 more than it is able to serve now.
The Dekko Foundation has also awarded a $1 million challenge grant toward the expansion, which will be given when the Whitley County branch has raised $1.25 million for the project, Pastura said.
They have about $500,000 to go before reaching their goal, he said.
“We hope to raise the money and start building in six months,” he said.
Dekko officials agreed that the project is an investment in the community and, in this case, the future community.
“Although our grant will help to pay for a building, what we’re really investing in is the great things that will happen inside,” said Sharon Smith, program director for the Dekko Foundation. “The YMCA staff and board have stepped back to consider what young children need to grow and thrive and that’s exactly what the new center will offer.”
Recent donations will also help fund the construction of the $7 million Caylor-Nickel Foundation Family YMCA in Wells County. The facility is set to open this year, Pastura said.