The Grove City YMCA is more than just a place to swim a few laps or shoot some hoops.

“I’m really proud of this Y,” said Adam Cook, chief executive officer.

There’s an after-school program, free swimming lessons in the summer, childcare, fitness classes, events open to the whole community, family skate night, and more.

“There is something for everybody,” Cook said on Tuesday afternoon while giving a tour of the building at 543 E. Main St. Extension, Pine Township.

It is supported by membership and program fees, donations, Grove City Area United Way and fundraising campaigns, and has about 4,200 members and a board of directors.

The nonprofit organization moved from the Grove City Armory in 1999 to its current facility, which expanded in 2012 with a 30,000-square-foot addition.

There is childcare for all age groups – that includes a Y building across the street – and memberships are free for kids 2 and under. Membership tiers were recently revamped, making the fees more accessible, and financial aid is available, Cook said.

“That’s one of the ways we give back,” he said, later adding that there are volunteer opportunities.

A father of four, he has seen firsthand that the YMCA can make a big difference in a community.

The Y teaches lifelong skills, promotes health and wellness, and everyone gets to play – unlike what some may encounter in competitive sports.

The Y offers more than 200 programs, sports, classes, events, and activities every year, and winter is one of the busiest times, especially the after-school program.

After-school initiative

The middle school initiative was designed for Grove City students in grades six through eight, and they get free Y memberships. It’s funded by donations and the Grove City Area United Way, and the kids head over on weekdays.

“We get about 100 of them every day after school,” Cook said.

That includes kids in grades three through five, most of whom pay $16 a month for a Y membership.

Much of the after-school program is held in the program arena, which features a teen center and space for sports, homework, snacks, and popular activities like cooking club and STEM club.

There’s also tutoring available, and Cook recalls a grandmother telling him last year that she was thankful for the help her grandson received at the Y with his math homework.

Families are appreciative for the program, knowing that their kids are somewhere safe after school, said John Jopek, the Y’s assistant membership director who also helps with the after-school program.

“We get a lot of good feedback,” he said.

The kids can also participate in open swim, and use the adjoining gym for activities like dodgeball, which kept dozens of students including Max Knouse and Cody Hamilton busy on Tuesday afternoon.

Max, 10, is in fourth grade and has made friends with fifth-grader Cody, 11, at the Y. They both like playing basketball and dodgeball, and they said you have to make sure to follow the YMCA rules.

The students get a briefing of sorts each day before they’re free to play, after which they clamber down the steps of the bleachers that face the arena.

The two boys said they visit the arena on the weekends for skate night; it’s held Fridays and Saturdays and includes lights, music and snacks. Skates can be rented, and there’s an entry fee; it’s open to the public, Jopek said.

“It’s really fun,” Max said.

The arena is also home to deck hockey, basketball tournaments, soccer, and physical education classes for the middle school, Cook said.

Part of the middle school gym floor was damaged in early January after frigid temperatures caused a sprinkler line fitting to rupture, and the entire gym floor is being replaced, school officials have said.

Fitness center

In the fitness center, there is new cardio equipment, and many of the exercise machines feature screens with apps like Netflix, and internet browsing capabilities.

Sue Dreves of Grove City took a break from using the elliptical; she visits the Y every week and has been a member for about 15 years.

She enjoys the weight-training class and fitness center, and her two kids enjoy the after-school program. They’ve all made new friends at the Y.

“I like that it caters to all groups,” said Dreves, who was wearing a shirt that said “There’s the gym, and then there’s the Y.”

The Y’s pool is used by the high school and Y swim teams, and there’s a free smartphone app, and iXL Rehab and Fitness Center on-site, Cook said, noting that Grove City members can also access the Franklin YMCA, its partner facility.

There’s a diabetes prevention program, Parkinson’s wellness program, monthly educational health presentations, and free swim lessons in the summer at the Grove City Memorial Park. The pool is managed by the Y, and participants don’t have to be Y members.

Sweetheart Ball

Families are looking forward to the Sweetheart Ball, which the Y hosts from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24. The daddy-daughter dance is open to the public, and fathers, grandfathers or uncles are welcome.

The cost is $45 per pair, and $10 for each additional girl. That includes dinner, music, professional photographers, and a corsage. Register by Monday, Feb. 12, by stopping at the front desk or calling 724-458-9781.

Mural planned

And there’s always something in the works, Cook said. The Grove City High School Community Art Class is working on a mural project; it’s being painted for a wall on the outside of the Y’s gym, and it will feature the history of the YMCA in Grove City.

“You can see it from the middle school,” he said.

The Y’s main entry is being renamed for Kathleen and David Cashdollar, who have been instrumental in helping the organization grow, and George Junior Republic students are working on two sculptures for the facility – a family, and a child running.

“It’s one of the best kept secrets,” Cook said of the Grove City YMCA.

The Grove City YMCA is located at 543 E. Main St. Extension. For more information, call 724-458-9781, visit www.grovecityymca.org or check out “Grove City YMCA” on Facebook.

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