The American Electric Power Foundation has awarded the YMCA of Southern West Virginia a $100,000 grant, which will be presented in two installments of $50,000 and will go towards Phase II of the facility’s planned renovations.
Ronn Robinson, External Affairs Manager for Appalachian Power’s Beckley location, presented the grant’s first installment to YMCA of Southern West Virginia CEO, Jay Rist, at the Y on Tuesday, Dec. 8.
Robinson credited the Y’s continuous contribution to the community as the reason the facility was awarded the grant.
“The AEP Foundation and Appalachian Power see this as an investment, not only in the Y but in the community we serve and the Y serves. The Y is typically a focal point for community health, physical health, personal health and youth development, and we are glad to be a part of that. Here, people know the Y, and they know what the Y does and how it contributes back to the community, not just in health and wellness but in so many other ways.”
Robinson continued, stating the improvements and enhancements that the Y has planned are going to make the facility a “viable, contributing member of the community for a long time.”
Rist stated on Tuesday that he hopes AEP’s donation will help raise additional support from other foundations.
“This is the first piece of a larger puzzle for us to be able to raise money and by having the American Electric Power Foundation right off the bat, the other pieces should fall into place for us.”
According to Rist, the decision to update the current facility came after the project for a new YMCA, which was to be located at the Paul Cline Memorial Soccer Complex, didn’t go through.
Towards the end of 2019, the Y reached out to its capital campaign donors and asked if the funds allotted for the new facility could be redirected and used to update the current facility for this day and age.
The donors agreed, and the Y connected with Grow Development- a development agency that partners with YMCA’s around the country and had completed some minor renovations for the Beckley YMCA in 2016- for Phase I.
Rist says, when the facility had to close in March due to the pandemic, everything fell into place to complete Phase I of the renovations, which included a complete redo of the top floor.
The facility transitioned all its weight equipment from downstairs to the main floor, creating a true health and wellness space.
The YMCA reopened on Aug. 31 and Rist says the renovations have received positive feedback from members.
For Phase II, the Y hopes to install an elevator on the main floor, making all three levels ADA accessible.
The facility also wants to renovate the old downstairs weight room into a concession stand, feeding space or possibly a recreational room for kids.
Currently, the Y is in the planning stages for Phase II as they hope to gain additional funding sources before starting the renovations.
The facility plans to begin Phase II in the spring of 2021.
“An opportunity came,” Rist stated. “We couldn’t build a new Y, but the opportunity was there to do something else. The Y is still there doing the work it does in the community and with partners like the American Electric Power Foundation, we expect to continue to do our mission and really strengthen the communities we serve now and into the future.”
The second installment of the grant will be awarded sometime in 2021, according to Robinson.