The Brainerd Family YMCA only needs about $100,000 to complete its $4.4 million expansion and renovation project, expected to be finished this spring or early summer.
This posed a problem. YMCA supporters had already asked generous community members for donations -- and got precisely what they asked for. How could they ask for just a little bit more?
The answer: The Finishers Club.
From now until Jan. 15, contributors of $1,000 or more will be able to have their names or the names of businesses and organizations permanently displayed on a 12 inch-by-12 inch ceramic tile. They also can have the names of deceased loved ones permanently memorialized on the tiles. The tiles will be prominently placed in the new entrance area of the YMCA.
All contributions have to be in by Jan. 15 so the tiles can be engraved and placed before the building project is finished, said executive director Randy Klinger.
Dr. Mike Severson, a pediatrician at Brainerd Medical Center, swims at the YMCA three mornings a week. He had never been involved with fund-raising efforts at the YMCA until he spoke with YMCA board member Paul Means about the Finishers Club. So Severson signed on to help raise the last $100,000.
"It was easy to say yes to Paul Means and Randy Klinger because I'm proud of the Y," said Severson. "You can judge a community by the health of its kids. The project ought to be completed. It's a shame if we didn't have the whole thing done. It's always the last money that's the hardest to get."
Mailings were sent last week to YMCA donors and other members of the community about the Finishers Club. Now Severson and five other volunteers now will be making follow-up phone calls.
The YMCA renovation project involved three phases. The first and second phases involved the construction of the Wellness Center and new parking lot, which were completed by the fall of 2000. The final phase, now underway, will include the construction of the new aquatic center that will house an 18-foot water slide and several water play features. The multifunctional pool, which will be kept at a warmer temperature than the lap pool, will be used for water aerobics classes, swim classes and is expected to be utilized by children through senior citizens, said Klinger. A 33-foot high cement structure will be used to support the roof as well as an aesthetically pleasing way to hike up to the water slide.
The YMCA also will house improved administrative offices, a fitness studio and a multi-purpose banquet room for meeting space for up to 120 people that has the ability to bring in catered food. The child care/babysitting area will also be renovated, said Klinger.
"We're very confident that we'll reach this goal because our community has already shown tremendous support in a new and improved YMCA," said Klinger.
Cheryl Gelbmann, who is also a member of the Finishers Club fund-raising committee, said she purchased a tile for her children, who are both in college, as a Christmas present. As young children, they learned to swim at the YMCA and went to day care there, too.
Gelbmann said donors can make payments for three years to pay their donation and businesses can donate merchandise and equipment for the new and improved YMCA instead of a monetary gift for the Finishers Club.
The YMCA is hosting a "sneak preview" of the construction site from 4-6 p.m. Dec. 17 for everyone interested in becoming a "Finishers Club" member.
To RSVP for the Dec. 17 event or for more information, call the YMCA at 829-4767.
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