The YMCA of Catawba Valley is in the midst of a capital campaign to raise funds to renovate the Hickory and Shuford branches.
“We’ve done our homework — we have completed a needs analysis, a market analysis, a feasibility analysis,” said Gerry Knox, development director with YMCA of Catawba Valley. “The community has spoken and said, 'We want a modern YMCA.”'
The Building Strong Communities Campaign goal is to raise $8.6 million. As of Friday, $3,371,150 has been raised since February 2020.
President and CEO of the YMCA of Catawba Valley Nat Auten said he is thankful for the support. “It has been humbling to see the support many families have provided the Y,” he said. “Every future has a past and these families have been involved in both — for that I am grateful!”
“This is the largest campaign that the community has seen from a nonprofit standpoint,” Knox said. He has lived in the area for the past 30 years and can attest to the significance of the YMCA in Catawba County.
“The Y brings the community together,” Knox explained. “We have the most diverse front door in the community. From a fitness standpoint, you could be on a treadmill beside someone on financial assistance or someone who could buy the whole building if they wanted to. At the end of the day, the Y brings the community together.”
“The Y is more than a gym,” he added. “Our YMCA facilities are about healthy living — addressing obesity, preventing isolation among seniors, having the LiveStrong program, Parkinson's programs, diabetes prevention and more.”
The YMCA also offers programming for children and teens. “We get children ready for kindergarten in our childcare programs, and they learn to swim,” Knox said. “We have a teen center dedicated to offering programs for teens that include teaching sports, leadership, and other skills. We want to show kids that they can reach their full potential in our community.”
The YMCA was established in Catawba County in 1969. The first facility was built in 1971 in Conover. The Hickory branch was added in 1995. The building was previously the Shuford Recreation Center.
This capital campaign will fund the costs to modernize and expand the current facilities, which will allow the YMCA to serve more individuals. The renovations will also give the YMCA of Catawba Valley opportunities to collaborate with more community partners.
“Lenoir-Rhyne’s home tennis courts are located at our facility. Catawba Valley Community College students are able to have a membership at the Y. We also partner with Frye Regional Medical Center, Catawba Valley Medical Center and so many others,” Knox said. “We want to provide a modern space where our community can convene programs.”
With the YMCA of Catawba Valley providing programming for all ages in communities in the county, Knox believes the organization is a vital link in the community. “Having a good, strong YMCA is critical in attracting and retaining young families, along with sustaining economic development and quality of life for all,” Knox said. “It’s all about community pride, and the YMCA serves as an anchor here.”
The Building Strong Communities Campaign has over 20 key leaders involved and is co-chaired by Hank and Regan Eimer, Susan Matthews, John and Diane Teeter and Dwyane Welch.
Honorary chairs include Jerome and Linda Bolick, Larry and Beth Bowman, Raymond and Ronnie von Drehle, Mike and Carmen Johnson, Dr. Ron and Meg Jenkins Locke, George and Carolyn Moretz, Steve Mull, John Pope, Alex and Misa Shuford, Stephen and Parker Shuford, Steve Underdown, and Mark and Jerri Webb.
Division chairs include Lori Alala, Dori Hunt, Darrell Johnson, Eric and Nikki Levin, Lori Sadowski, and Eddie Salyards.
For more information about how you can support the YMCA or to review recognition opportunities for your family, contact Knox at 828-838-1567.
Emily Willis is a general assignment and education reporter at the Hickory Daily Record.