South Side YMCA Hosts “Grand Reveal” of Renovated Center

August 31, 2014

The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago celebrates the completion of the South Side YMCA’s $3.6 million renovation by inviting the community to its Grand Reveal on September 4, 2014, at 6330 S. Stony Island Avenue from 6 pm to 8 pm.

The new South Side Y improvements debut with a community open house that will include fun, family-friendly activities, program demonstrations, special guests, tours, sample classes and a drawing to win a free year of YMCA membership.

Improvements include a new lobby with more community spaces and improved visibility for parents; a new Y Kid’s Zone drop-in care center for children featuring experiential learning toys for children to use; programming space for group fitness classes such as cycling, Yoga and TRX Suspension Training; and a new and more secure entrance.

These renovations are in addition to those completed in 2013, which include improved lockers with member lounges, a new whirlpool and renovated programming space.

The South Side YMCA was first built in 1984, on a parcel of land intentionally chosen to bring athletic and communal facilities to residents of the Woodlawn, South Shore and Hyde Park communities. As the area’s first full-service fitness facility, the South Side YMCA quickly attracted a socio-economically and racially diverse mix of members from these communities. And, the Y sought the opinions of this membership mix early in the renovation process, including youth focus groups to help in planning spaces for members of all ages.

“Before we began investing in the brick and mortar of this building, YMCA leadership asked members and the broader community what they wanted to see happen here,” said Richard Malone, president and CEO of the YMCA of Metro Chicago. “The ideas that emerged from those visioning sessions were incorporated into the renovations.”

The South Side Y has been an anchor for Chicago’s southeast communities, and a place where hundreds of children, young adults, families and senior citizens exercise and socialize. Each year, more than 200 youth ages 4 to 18 years participate in its Youth Basketball Association and dozens of families are served by its drop-in care and pre-school programming. Innovative programs such as afterschool acting workshops for teens, diabetes health classes for adults, swimming classes for children with autism, and so much more, make the South Side Y a mainstay for thousands of Chicagoans.
“Thirty years ago, a bold decision was made by the YMCA and community leaders to build a center here. We’re celebrating our collective re-investment in the South Side community and the center’s growing impact in the lives of children, families and other residents,” said Malone.
As a nonprofit organization, the YMCA relies on charitable contributions to make facility enhancements and many programs and services possible. This project was realized with donations made to the YMCA of Metro Chicago endowment.

Along with touring the facility, visitors also are invited to meet the new executive director of the South Side Y, Wendy Ellis, Ed.D. She was appointed to her position in October 2013, and has worked with her team to improve customer service, create new programs and classes, and guide the renovations. Under her management, the entire South Side Y experience has been greatly enhanced and is reflected in membership and program growth.

“We are so excited to debut our new facilities to our members and to the broader community,” said Ellis. “For months, we have planned both physical and cultural changes at the South Side Y that, together, allow us to provide this community with the kind of membership experience that is unexpected but deserved. We’re ready to ‘wow’ people.”

Hundreds of South Side YMCA members along with community members are expected to attend the Grand Reveal, which will include a 5:30 p.m. formal ribbon-cutting with Malone, South Side Y board member Tom Jefferson, Ald. Willie Cochran (20th) and other community leaders.  Events begin at 6 pm and include building tours, program demonstrations such as Zumba® and Karate, face painting and light refreshments.