YMCA Expands Programming With R7 Purchase

Full-day Child Care Could Open By Late Summer
HOLDREGE – The Don Sjogren Community YMCA will expand its services this summer with the opening of a new child care facility and other new programming made possible by the purchase of the former R7 school building.
“I can’t see that it’s anything but a win-win for the community,” YMCA CEO Ginger Cowne said. “The community built that building, and we are keeping it here for the community.”
Cowne said the Y has run out of space for many programs in the current 40,000-square foot building. Many groups are vying to play in the single gym space, including the nearly 60 children in the Y’s after school program. Practice and game space is needed for the more than 300 children involved in YMCA basketball leagues and games.
With the cost to build an additional gymnasium estimated at $1 million, the purchase of the former R7 school for $175,000 made more sense.
The purchase adds another 22,000-square feet of space to give the Y an opportunity to create new programs, such as indoor soccer, full-day child care and eventually overnight child care.
“The Y is here to serve the community, and this purchase gives us the space to further the Y’s mission and continue to meet the needs of the residents who live here,” she said.
Cowne said she hopes the child care would be operational by mid-August. It would serve up to 61 children ages six weeks to 6 years. The initial hours would be 7 a.m.-6 p.m. She is currently seeking a full-time Child Care Director, and she estimates nearly 20 other full or part-time jobs would be created with the new child care center.
Little remodeling is needed for the new space, Cowne said. However, a fire suppression system is now required. That timing of that installation will dictate the center’s actual opening date.
The new facility would also be open for seniors to play cards, and she has already promised space for model train building. The Y will allow rentals of the gym and other rooms at R7 as needed. No alcohol would be allowed for any events on the Y premises.
Exercise equipment and group exercise classes would remain at the current facility at 1415 Broadway as well as Child Watch for use by parents with small children.
The funding of the R7 purchase is being made possible through grants and private donations, including a generous gift from the First State Bank of Holdrege. Donors will have an opportunity to give to the R7 project during the Y’s annual campaign this fall. Or, donations may be given now to help with the building and supply purchases.
The Y is a non-profit organization that serves the community through programs that focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.
The YMCA’s association offices have already moved to R7, and Cowne and other association staff can be reached at 995-2705. The YMCA of the Prairie association staff oversees operations at both the Don Sjogren Community YMCA in Holdrege and the Orthman Community YMCA in Lexington.

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