GYM OR FITNESS CENTER
It's obvious by the number of categories that the YMCA of Springfield either won or was a finalist in that both branches of the YMCA, Downtown and Kerasotes, are integral parts of our community.
Joey Greenwood, Downtown branch manager says, "It's a great feeling. I think the Y is so much more than just a gym. We say that a lot internally, and I think it's recognized by our members." Two important things contribute to this, says Greenwood, "our staff who are creating and staffing these programs, and just as important are the people who come in and utilize the facilities."
Springfield's first YMCA began in 1874. The focus of the Y has changed over the years, and it is now an important part of the lives of people who are looking to reach fitness goals and provide physical and cultural activities for their children as well those in need of quality childcare.
"We're fortunate to have had community support to build a facility with state-of-the-art everything. It's been fantastic," said Greenwood. The new Downtown Y opened in 2020.
The Kerasotes branch is currently undergoing its own expansion, with 14 acres of soccer fields being developed on land the Y owns near the branch. Greenwood says this will allow for additional youth and adult sports programming in 2023.
The Y also does a tremendous amount of community outreach. One example is the pop-up produce pantries on Wednesdays and Saturdays, taking produce donations from the downtown farmers market and offering it at the Y. To date, they've given away over 6,000 pounds of produce.
A partnership with the Matthew Project and generous donations through fundraising have allowed the Y to offer free summer camp placements to 50-60 kids, including meals and field trips.
The Springfield Police Department has partnered for a "Meat and Greet" with free hot dogs and a K-9 demonstration. The police also celebrated National Ice Cream Day at the Y. Greenwood notes it is important for children to realize the police department "is here to protect us and help us. They're doing a lot of good things for the community."
This holiday season, a tree will be set up at the Y for patrons to donate gifts to women and their families staying at Sojourn Shelter & Services.
"We definitely appreciate the support of our community, and without that support we would not be able to do what we do," said Greenwood. "A big thank you to all of our donors, because we could not reach the people we need to reach without them."
With all the Y does, it is easy to see why they won big in the Best of Springfield. But really, it is our community that wins.