The Plum community gathered at the East Suburban YMCA along Golden Mile Highway Tuesday morning for what could be called a momentous event.
Members of the community, government officials and YMCA staff—along with some little helpers in hard hats—celebrated a ground breaking for the new Sampson Family Y, an $11 million expansion project that will double the size of the current YMCA facility in Plum.
"A lot of people have been waiting a long time for this expansion to occur," said Larry Stormer, executive director of the East Suburban YMCA. "This is such a special day."
In the 1970s, Orin Sampson donated the land where the current facility sits. About 25 years later, his son, Myles spearheaded a major renovation of the YMCA. Today, Kristy Sampson Rodriguez, Myles' daughter and Orin's granddaughter, said he family continues to support the expansion of the YMCA—the Sampson family has donated about $1 million toward the project via the Sampson Foundation.
"There was no doubt in my mind that we would support this project," Sampson Rodriguez said. "I'm so grateful and honored to be able to support this Y with my family and to make it an amazing facility."
The new facility will include room for an indoor lap pool, a warm water therapy pool, a teaching kitchen for nutritional education, an indoor walking track, an expanded childcare and summer day camp program, youth and adult sports leagues, senior wellness programs, cardiovascular and strength training, teen mentoring, family programs and additional parking. It also will add the need for more employees and volunteers.
"It'll be a phenominal facility," Stormer said. "I've been at Ys all over the country, and I think this Y will certainly be unmatched.
"Right now, we teach 400 kids how to swim with our outdoor complex. Now, we'll be able to teach 2,000 kids per year to be able to be safe by water, to be able to teach families to prepare healthy meals on a tight schedule. We'll be able to have warm water therapy. To us, that's what this facility means—how many more people we can impact in the community."
Richard Kacin, capital campaign co-chair and YMCA supporter for 50 years, agreed.
"We're really going to have something to be proud of," he said.
A public fundraising campaign for the program will begin in the next few months. For more information about the new facility or to support the expansion project, click here.