New Outdoor Seating Area Funded by Lois Carlson Estate Gift

A new seating area will soon be available outside the Don Sjogren Community YMCA in Holdrege thanks to an estate gift from former longtime member Lois Carlson.

Branch Executive Director Brett Bebensee said the idea for the new area came about after seeing how many people congregated outside the YMCA for events such as Healthy Kids Day, the last day of school BBQ and youth sports. Those people had no place to sit.

“We wanted to create a space outside for people to sit and converse and build community,” Bebensee said.

Lois Carlson died in November 2021 at age 100. She was a longtime member of the YMCA and was often one of the first people in the door in the early mornings. She attributed part of her longtime health to her daily habit of exercise.

“Lois was amazing,” YMCA Board Member Rhonda Johnson said. “She was an avid walker at the Y in the mornings well into her 90s. She was active until the end. This project is a wonderful gift from Lois.”

Lois was a member of the YMCA’s Heritage Club, a group of donors who committed through estate planning or other gifting methods to provide for the future of the YMCA. Heritage Club members ensure the values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility endure and that Y programs will positively impact our community for generations to come.

The project will include pouring three concrete pads and adding three picnic tables with umbrellas.

“We are very grateful for this donation and excited about this project because it is accessible to all,” Bebensee said. “From kids eating lunch at summer camp to senior members who want to visit outside with coffee after their workouts, this new area will provide a place for all ages of people to connect.”

Popple Construction and Benjamin Landscaping will be the main contractors for the project, which is expected to be completed as early as late October.

Bebensee said Phase 2 of the outside project will involve creating an outdoor classroom area on the west side of the YMCA building. Details and implementation of Phase 2 will take place in the spring of 2023.

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