Chamber Member of the Week: Owensboro Family YMCA

The Owensboro Family YMCA has seen a significant dip in membership, but they’re still pushing forward to do all they can to help the community through various programs and services.

The Y, which provides an income-based membership to those in need, started in 1895 in Owensboro. It has grown to serve more than 10,000 people annually, providing opportunities to more than 3,000 members thanks to direct/indirect assistance through membership, programs and outreach.

The pandemic, though, hit the Y hard. Whether because of guidelines such as mask requirements or personal safety precautions, the number of people utilizing the various YMCA services had sharply declined.

“We’ve been hit hard in our membership department, which pays our bills,” said Kristi Harrison, Director of Operations. “About 40 percent of our members have not returned to us since the pandemic hit. Obviously, that’s a big hit on our budget.”

Another big loss in revenue came when the YMCA couldn’t host their annual summer camp, and as of now they won’t be able to hold it again this year unless the Commonwealth lifts restrictions. 

Still, YMCA officials are dedicated to providing benefits to families and assistance to members.

“Right now we’re just trying to be relevant in the community during the pandemic,” Harrison said. “That means we’re calling all of our seniors and making sure they’re not suffering from social isolation, and we’re offering child care to essential workers, and we offer support with virtual schooling.”

In 2020, the Y had 827 “SilverSneakers” members who paid 12,460 visits to the Y.

Overall, the organization had 3,175 members that received 60,370 wellness visits and 1,560 free fitness classes.

Highlights of their child care services include afterschool transportation, homework assistance, and programming provided for 80 days to 40 children; full-day virtual education; support and active programming for 180 days to 37 different children; newly remodeled Wee Care space; and expanded child care areas with new furnishings on the second floor.

Officials recognize some people have been wary of using facilities like the YMCA during the pandemic, but numerous safety guidelines are in place.

The monthly family rate at the Y is $55, with a $20 joiner fee. 

Family benefits currently offered include:

  • Wee Care-child watch for children 6 weeks to 10 years old 
  • Family-friendly Zumba classes 
  • Open swim time 
  • Discounted swimming lessons, school-aged childcare, birthday party rates, and youth strengthening training 
  • Game room access: 
    • Ping pong 
    • Racquetball
    • Billiards (bring your own equipment) 
  • Access to family locker rooms, Studio 2, and Performance Room 
  • Ability to reserve the following areas for just your family for up to one hour: 
    • Basketball Court
    • Tumble Room 
    • Playground

Because they rely so much on membership fees and grants — they received grants totaling roughly $62,000 last year — YMCA officials said they haven’t been able to do much long-term planning.

They want to renovate the facility down the road — including an addition and repurposed rooms for fitness classes — but for now they are having to take things one step at a time.

Harrison said: “We’re just trying to make it through this challenging time, and appreciate all of the continued support from our community.”

By Ryan Richardson  The Owensboro Times