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The KG YMCA is ‘part of the fabric of the community’

The King George Board of Supervisors was provided a substantial report on the King George Family YMCA that opened in the county five years ago.

The report to the community was provided at the Oct. 1 meeting of the Board of Supervisors by Elizabeth Clark, executive director of the King George Family YMCA since it opened, with help from a couple of her board members, David Clare and Jim Howard, giving details about YMCA programs.

“I asked you to give this report and it is hard to believe that the Y has been up and operational for five years already,” Chairman Dale Sisson said. “It’s part of the fabric of our community.”
Supervisors were clearly impressed by the report.

Shiloh Supervisor Cedell Brooks spoke first following the YMCA report.

“One comment that I have is a very positive comment,” Brooks said. “From the onset of the YMCA, one of my main concerns was that nobody would be turned away and everybody didn’t have money to become a member. But I hear that you’re working very hard to make sure everybody is a part of the YMCA if they want to be there. And I’m very impressed with that. And I appreciate that.”

Supervisor Joe Grzeika said, “When this board made the decision on the Y, it was done somewhat on a prayer that everything was going to work out. I’ve got to tell you, you’ve far exceeded the expectations. I had a vision that I thought it would become a community center. But it is the King George center. You go there any day, any night, and people are there and taking advantage of it. It’s a place where people meet, they socialize, they exercise and they grow.”  

Supervisor Ruby Brabo spoke about one of the Y programs, saying, “I did participate in the Bright Beginnings at the beginning of the school year and it was a wonderful experience.” She added, “Seeing the joy on all those children’s faces was truly rewarding.”

James Monroe Supervisor John LoBuglio said, “We get a lot of comments that it’s a real community center for the entire county.”

Sisson added a note about the number of people that have used the King George YMCA, saying, “10,200 citizens have used the Y in one way, shape or form out of 24,000 citizens.” He added, “That’s a pretty amazing market saturation. And I think that speaks a lot to the Y staff. It’s an amazingly capable staff. One of the things that most people probably don’t realize is how much the staff gives of their own time and their money, as do the Y board members.”

Sisson thanked Clark for putting together the detailed report, which follows bellow.

Clark began by thanking supervisors, along with county residents, and praising their “leadership and foresight” on bringing the YMCA to the county.

“Everyone says that Disney has the corner on magic, but I would disagree with that statement,” Clark said. “I have seen real magic happen when lives are changed right here in King George County.”

Clark defined that magic, saying it included the following examples:  “When a special needs student who was afraid of the water now swim laps; when a dad who just lost his wife and gets help with the cost of membership and after-school care; the smile of a senior who can move better after the water arthritis class; or the smile of a child when a mentor spends one-on-one time with that child.”

She added, “I dare say this is a magic that Disney will never create, but you all have by bringing the YMCA to King George County.”

Clark introduced the chairman of the King George Family YMCA board, David Clare, who is also senior vice president of Union First Market Bank.

Clark noted that Clare was also a founding member of the King George YMCA, adding he would talk about the numbers of people who have been impacted by the King George YMCA during the last five years.

“The Y believes that everyone deserves a chance to succeed, no matter what their background, what their income,” Clare said. “We have learned that can happen only when we unite to nurture the best in all of us. That is why our cause is strengthening community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The King George Family YMCA has been an exciting and safe place for people to build self-esteem, learn a new skill and develop friendships.”

Clare provided some statistics of what has happened at the Y over the last five years:  All 7th grade county students receive a free student membership to use during the school year; 35 elementary school children were readied for school through the YMCA Bright Beginnings Program; four Regional Rappahannock Summer League Meets; 15 High School swim meets held at the King George Y; 100 adults have learned how to swim; 200 home-school youth have used the Y for physical education; 350 youth have gone to summer camp; 400 youth have attended the before- and after-school program; 700 adults and families have been given assistance be a part of the Y; 800 children have learned to swim; 1,500 families have attended special events at the Y; 10,200 King George County residents have been members of the Y.

Next Jim Howard, former long-time member of the Board of Supervisors and former member of the School Board, provided the following details.

• 2012-2013 school year - 3 classes from King George High School with special needs were transported to the Y every Thursday for one hour learning how to swim. These students have some of the most severe needs in the high school.

• The King George YMCA provided four lifeguards, two volunteers, and seven teachers for no charge to teach this program.

• This was a very specialized program and required the staff to get their adapted swim certification to offer this course to the students.

• This program became the pioneer program for the 2013-2014 YMCA Learn to Swim Program for the county second graders.

• Students just did not come and play in the pool — they learned how to swim. Several of these students were then promoted to community swim leagues. This would have never happened without this foundational program. Every student went to the next level of their swim abilities.

• The coalition members include the King George Family YMCA, King George Parks and Recreation, Wendy Moore Dentistry, King George Farmers’ Market, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Optimist Club and the King George County Schools.

• The coalition’s mission is Healthy Eating Active Living. The coalition supports environmental and policy changes that prevent and reduce childhood obesity.

• The coalition received a grant for $42,000 from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth. The grant monies were used to conduct a county school-wide survey about the physical activities and healthy habits of students, marketing materials for the coalition, grant coordinator, 2010 Healthy Kids Day, after school Kids Fit program held at the county schools, flooring for the Community Playground at the King George YMCA and educating students through media and special activities about the benefits of eating healthier snacks.

• Raised $75,000. Donors were Foote Title Group, GEICO, King George Farm Bureau, Dr. Cottrell and the King George “Get Healthy” Coalition.

• Congressman Rob Whitman and county supervisors attended the ribbon cutting at the first county-wide Healthy Kids Day.

• Organizations from the county use the pavilion including the Ruritans, Adult Activity Center, King George DSS, King George Builders Association, King George Chamber of Commerce, and Regional Swim Meets.

• Celebrated nationwide to call attention to the importance of afterschool programs for America’s children, families and communities.

• Each October, 1 million Americans and thousands of communities nationwide celebrate Lights On Afterschool to shine a light on the after school programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families.

• King George Family YMCA has celebrated Lights on Afterschool for the last three years and received a $1,000 grant each year from the Virginia Partnership of Out of School Time.

• King George YMCA is committed to after school programs. Youth can participate in Fun Club (before- and after-school care), Super Saturdays (Y is open to students 5th-8th grade, Free 7th grade membership drive, Kidz Club (activities for 5-10 years old), swim team and lessons

• National Night Out, “America’s Night Out Against Crime” is an effort to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships, neighborhood camaraderie and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

• Hosted the event at the King George Family YMCA for 3 years.

• Over 100 community citizens attended the 2013 National Night Out.

• Exercising in water makes you feel about 90 percent lighter, reports the American Council on Exercise. When you jump or run in the water, your body does not experience the same impact these moves cause on land. This makes water aerobics an ideal activity for those with arthritis, back problems, foot or leg injuries, and knee conditions.

• Received a $9,000 grant from the Community Foundation for a pool and spa lift and an aqua treadmill to give seniors more availability for the pool. The Community Foundation distributes grants to a variety of non-profit programs, organizations and other community-oriented charitable efforts that benefit area residents, as well as scholarships to local students.  

• 500 seniors from King George County have benefitted from water fitness classes
• $50 per month for a senior to take Water Fitness Classes

• People with intellectual disabilities are encouraged to join Special Olympics for the physical activity, which helps lower the rate of cardiovascular disease and obesity, among other health benefits. Also, they gain many emotional and psychological benefits, including self-confidence, social competence, building greater athletic skills and higher self-esteem.
• For the last 5 years, 75 children with special needs have been a part the Special Olympics Swim Team at the King George Family YMCA

•Benefit of continued exercising once physical therapy has been completed includes restoring physical functioning and skills like walking and range of movement.

• Conditions include MS, Parkinson’s, stroke victims, traumatic brain injury and joint replacements.
• 70 adults have received intensive personal training at an affordable rate for serious conditions.

• All Y members receive orientation and training workouts from certified trainers to help with their goals. Many of their goals are centered around health and movement issues.

• YMCA Bright Beginnings gives children in our community the tools they need to succeed each school year. We provide eligible students (economically disadvantaged children) with new clothes, shoes and a backpack filled with supplies. This year 35 elementary students shopped with more than 50 community volunteers and were ready to be successful this school year.

• Every summer hundreds of children in King George County do not have enough food to eat. The Lunch Bunch provides 250 lunches twice a week during the summer to these children. The program starts in June runs through the last week in August.

• Lunch Bunch is a volunteer organization dedicated to meeting the needs of children in King George County, VA during summer breaks. The program is administered by a Board of Directors composed of members from Dahlgren United Methodist Church, Peace Lutheran Church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Two Rivers Baptist Church, and Trinity United Methodist Church.

• Lunch Bunch has been serving the community for the last three summers. The King George Family YMCA is the fiscal partner and provides additional programming for Lunch Bunch children – Summer Camp, Before and After School program and the YMCA Bright Beginnings Program.

Howard next mentioned programs that are starting up or being planned at the Y.

• Drowning is the No. 2 cause of accidental death among children under 14 years of age. Additionally, 12,000 children a year are left with a permanent disability from a near drowning.

• The objective is to provide swim lessons to every second grader in the county school system. A pilot program will begin in November of 2013 with Potomac Elementary students.

• Students will participate for free for 6 weeks once a week during the school day.

• Program will be expanding to all elementary school second graders in the county during the spring of 2014.

• YMCA Leaders’ Club starting in 2014 will provide teens in 7th - 12th grade with knowledge, training, communication skills and valuable team-building experience through volunteering in Y programs and the community. Leaders’ Club will train teens to better serve their community through the Y as they encourage each other to make a positive impact for present and future generations. The Y is committed to nurturing children and teens and contributing to their success.

• Exercise is an important part of healthy living for everyone. However, for people with Parkinson’s disease exercise is not only healthy, but a vital component to maintaining balance, mobility and daily living activities.
• In the past, people being treated for a chronic illness (an illness a person may live with for a long time, like cancer or diabetes) were often told by their doctor to rest and reduce their physical activity. This is good advice if movement causes pain, rapid heart rate, or shortness of breath. But newer research has shown that exercise is not only safe and possible during cancer treatment, but it can improve how well you function physically and your quality of life.

• During 2014 the King George YMCA will provide opportunities for people with Parkinson’s disease and cancer with exercises classes created especially for their illness.

Howard spoke about fundraising efforts for the community programs.

Every year the King George Family YMCA Board of Directors and staff raise money for the Jay Massad Annual Support Campaign. The Y is open to all — no matter their background or income. And if you belong to the Y in King George, you belong to the Y in Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania and wherever.  The KGY Board collectively has raised $80,000 over the last 5 years to support the cause of the Y. Each year the KGY board members give personally, get gifts and support events so that the Y is open to all. A couple of events the Y holds are Casino Night and, most recently, a golf tournament. Howard said the golf tournament was very successful for the first year, bringing in more than $8,000, which will be used for some of these youth programs and others.

Howard finished up, saying, there are three questions that we usually ask, and we answer them: What do people find at the Y? Strength; what do Y volunteers do? They give back; and what do kids do at the KG Family YMCA? They grow.

Sisson noted that there were a couple of other Y board members in the audience, welcoming and thanking Sheriff Dempsey and Julie Kaifa, adding she is a charter board member and been there since the start.

Find out more about the King George Family YMCA online at The YMCA is located on the north side of Route 3.

Phyllis Cook

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