August used to be the month when nearly everyone expected to be uncomfortable with the heat and humidity.
But today, in addition to coping with the challenges of Midwestern weather, it seems that we're constantly being tried and tested via intrusive print and broadcast outlets and the ever present social media platforms -- with sights and sounds of senseless violence, shootings, and unsettling disturbances both around the world and in nearby communities.
But for West Cook YMCA members and families, there's a certain comfort in knowing that the Y is a place where one can find a common ground with others who share the same core values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility.
At the Y one finds that members, staff, and volunteers have a sincere concern for others' needs and their well being.
At the Y, honesty and trustworthiness are the norm not the exception.
Here people are treated with respect, just as one would want to be treated themselves, where the value of every person is held high and accepted.
And the Y is a place where all are expected to be responsible for their behavior and actions and strive to do what is right.
As we move into the fall season, this is an excellent time to rediscover your Y-the brightened and burnished facilities, scores of new programs designed to enhance well-being, fitness, and the prevention of disease for persons of all ages and abilities as well as the benefits of new leadership, both at the board and staff levels.
We'll begin another Summer Recess on August 13 to address a broad range of rehabilitation and improvements of our facilities and to install new equipment.
And when we reopen on August 29, we will have expended or committed a total of $1.2 million on West Cook Y facilities, equipment, and programs in the past 24 months.
These investments have had a significant impact on our aesthetics, safety and functionality, resulting in increasing our membership.
Following the 2015 Recess, membership increased from 1,824 to 2,100, an eight percent growth that resulted in an additional $150,000 in annual income.
During the Recess this month, we plan to address over 300 projects in 12 areas of the building with the assistance of 45 volunteers who will contribute over 900 hours of service, more than $16,000 worth of contributed time.
All of these projects are an outgrowth of what our members told us in the annual SEER study when we asked if the Y is clean, safe, and adequately equipped. We continue to earn satisfaction and approval of the WCY facilities but these annual surveys provide us with excellent input on specific suggestions for improvement.
Our goal for this year's Summer Recess is to continue our membership growth and retention by enhancing key areas of the building that are critical to providing a quality member experience.
We'll focus on improving functionality, aesthetics, and safety throughout the Y building.
Among the areas that will receive special attention will be on the Spa level where the former Y-Box room will be converted to a Personal Training Studio where members may engage our personal trainers and dietian who will office in the area. The restrooms and locker rooms on the Spa level will be refurbished. Please don't forget to empty anything you have stored in your locker by August 12. We will store anything left behind for one month and then donate items to local charities.
Improvements will be made to the Member Lounge, Multi-Purpose Room, Cycle Studio, Track, and Racquet Ball courts.
The Pool and deck will be thoroughly cleaned.
New flooring will be installed in certain common areas and the two gym floors will be totally refurbished.
A major project will be to upgrade the HVAC system especially in the Wellness/Fitness/Sports area.
Increased security equipment and systems will be added throughout the building and IT issues will be addressed.
We also plan improvements on the Residence floors to improve the well-being and comfort of our residents.
Please check our website www.westcookymca.org/summerrecess for the latest details, to volunteer to help with projects, or for alternative sites.
Another leg in the rediscovery of the Y is just how many members are being SMART about how they spend their time here. They are being Specific about which programs in which they participate. They find that results are Measurable, Attainable and Realistic, and Trackable.
All of this begins with a free fitness consultation to evaluate members' current state of fitness and set realistic, measurable goals.
More than 1,000 seniors are actively managing their health and fitness here at the Y by participating in Diabetes Prevention, Fit After Fifty, Silver Sneakers, Senior Yoga, Senior Swim programs, Bingo, and monthly field trips.
Our newest opportunity for seniors is the Enhance®Fitness program geared towards older adults at all fitness levels. Classes are held three times a week in a small group of 25 or less who participate in dynamic exercise at one's own pace. An assessment is made at the beginning of the program and then every four months.
Research has shown that older adults who participate in Enhance®Fitness have health costs lowered by nearly $1,000 a year and 9 out of 10 stay with the program and 99 percent say that they would recommend a friend.
The next Enhance®Fitness session begins October 24. Contact Laura Olszewski at email@example.com for details.
Our collaborative program with the Village of Maywood to manage and operate the Fred Hampton Family Aquatic Center again this summer is producing record participation. More than 6,400 guest visits have been recorded to date, well over our goal of 5,000 and substantially more than the 1,400 and 4,000 guest visits we recorded in 2014 and 2015.
These wonderful results are possible because of contributions by our sponsors: Maywood-Proviso Rotary Club, Forest Printing Co., Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd., AA Rental Group Melrose Park, and a5Group, Inc.
As for the West Cook YMCA's Competitive Aquatics program, we placed very well in the Long Course State Championships held late last month.
There were 33 individual medalists, eight relay final medalists, and five individual state champions. One of our swimmers, Ken Garza, set an Illinois YMCA state record of 58.47 in the 100 meter butterfly event. Garza qualified as an Olympic trials candidate in the USA Swimming Futures Championships to be held in Austin, Texas in early August.
Fall clinics will be held during the weeks of August 29 and September 5 and fall tryouts are scheduled for September 12, 13, and 14.
Our new Residence Case Manager, Paige Clincy, who joined us recently from Thresholds, Inc., has created a new Life Skills program for our residents. Classes in computer literacy, job readiness, financial literacy, and healthy living and lifestyles are being taught by volunteers and staff.
Today, we're a completely new and different organization from the YMCA that I arrived at just two years ago.
Our half-century-old building is looking better and brighter each year.
We've added scores of new programs and policies all designed to assist our members to have a better experience and value the Y in their lives as they work to attain and maintain health and fitness goals.
With the addition of two new Board members, Jessica Bullock, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Presence Health and Michael Carioscio, Chief Information Officer of Oak Park River Forest High School, virtually all our current board members are new and bring with them varied experience, talent, and vision.
Together with our dedicated staff, who with the exception of one senior leadership team member, also are new, we're all focused on providing the best possible service and experience for our members, guests, and the ten west suburban communities the West Cook YMCA serves.
President & CEO