One of the missions of the YMCA of Delaware is to go where the people are.
The organization hit the mark when it announced in October that it would expand into Middletown, one of the fastest growing areas in the state.
YMCA officials were inundated by requests to be “Founding Members” when the announcement was made and more than 1,000 people took advantage of the membership with benefits.
Many of those founding members have already used the new facility that was opened Jan. 1 with them in mind.
“We’ve seen a lot of those members already and we only had our soft opening on Jan. 1,” said center director David Halley. “We want all of our members to take advantage of our new facility, so we expect to be busy all of the time. The good thing is we’ll always have staff available to help. We’re ready.”
Allison Iannone lives in Newark but works in Middletown. She couldn’t wait for the new YMCA to open so she could start working on a better “me.” Even though she has used other YMCA facilities in the area, the Middletown Y offers her more opportunities, as well as convenience.
“I was so happy a Y was opening here,” she said. “It leaves me no more excuses. It’s a new year and a new me. I hope it lasts.”
Josh Morgan, a 16-year-old student at Middletown High School, said that while he will take advantage of the new facility now, it’s the what-could-be that really excites him.
“It’s hard getting access to the weight room at the high school, so this gives me an opportunity to work out,” he said. “But I really like how eventually they will have a pool here. I look forward to that more than anything.”
While the 6,400-foot facility – which cost $250,000 to renovate and add the myriad exercise equipment – is the first step in the vision for the Middletown Family YMCA, residents can expect more in the future.
Deborah Bagatta-Bowles, CEO of the YMCA of Delaware, said the current facility is the YMCA’s initial investment into the community. She said construction of a $10 million-$12 million facility should be a reality in three to five years. Funds are already being put aside for that future project, she said.
“This is how the Bear-Glasgow branch started,” Bagatta-Bowles said. “We hope to duplicate that in Middletown. The next step in that project is to put together a local board and start fundraising efforts.”
The official opening for all members at the Middletown Family YMCA is slated for Jan. 28, with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony at noon that day. As part of the opening, the YMCA is inviting all community members to try out the exercise equipment at the Cass Street facility and take part in any of the classes being offered that day at no cost.
“We’re excited to open our doors to the community,” said director of public relations Jamila Anderson. “We’re sure they are going to love it.”
Before the Middletown Y opened its Cass Street facility, it already had a presence in the Middletown-Odessa-Townsend area, providing before- and after-school programs in the Appoquinimink School District.
The new facility will give members access to a state-of-the-art fitness center with cardio machines and weight equipment, a movement studio for a wide variety of classes, a Kids Zone with free baby-sitting services, youth programs including summer camp, teen leadership activities and much more.
“We are so pleased to finally be moving forward with our long-term vision for Middletown and the surrounding areas,” Bagatta-Bowles said. “We plan to keep pace with the growth in this area.”
Visit the Middletown Family YMCA website at www.ymcade.org/middletown for more information.
By Jerry Smith
January 17, 2017