Photo by Corinne Nicholson
COVINGTON -- On Feb. 19, 2000, the Covington Family YMCA moved from a small red brick building known as the "teen can" on Newton Drive into its current facility next door.
Since that time, membership and programming have grown substantially. This year, the YMCA is marking its 10th anniversary in its present building, made possible in large part through community donations.
The YMCA first gained a foothold in the community in the early 1980s in the brick building donated by Covington Rotary Club. Programming was limited to soccer, summer day camp and a few aerobics classes.
"With the YMCA, you don't just decide you want to come into a community. The community asks you to come and help meet the needs," Interim Executive Director Louly Hay-Kapp said. "Several local leaders back at that time established the need along with the Metro Atlanta YMCA for a YMCA in Covington. They typically follow that same pattern of finding space to start and generating enough interest to get to the point to where they can do a capital campaign to build a facility."
The new facility included a workout area with cardio and weight equipment, a group exercise room and an outdoor pool. By the time it opened in 2000, the Y had 102 membership units -- a unit is counted as an individual or family membership. Today, that number has grown to 850. The soccer program has grown to six times its original membership of 80 to 500 and day camp has grown from 22 attendees to about 160.
Today, YMCA programs reach people of all ages: Most recently, there has been a spike in memberships of older adults.
"That's something about the YMCA. It's kind of a hub of all different kinds of people -- all income levels, shapes, sizes. It's a nondenominational place where everyone can come together," Hay-Kapp said.
Additional programs have been added during the past decade, including an after school program; football; T-ball; swimming; cheerleading; and basketball, along with the annual Cheerios Challenge, a walk/run commemorating Healthy Kids Day. In addition, the YMCA recently opened a new outdoor facility off Stone Road in Oxford.
YMCA staff hope to continue to expand as funding allows.
"There is a huge need for an indoor pool in Newton County. We would love for the YMCA to be able to meet that need, but as with everything, that requires funding. We wish we could make it happen overnight, but right now we have to figure out about funding it," Hay-Kapp said.
It's largely due to donors and volunteers that the YMCA has been so successful, and its future success will depend on that same support base, she said.
"Volunteerism has helped the YMCA in Covington for years. YMCA's are volunteer-driven organizations and there have been some people giving of their time and resources since back in the '80s for the vision of this building and they continued to support it once we got into this building. We're grateful for that continued support, time and effort that these donors and volunteers give in all of our programs," she said.