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Greensboro YMCA gears for growth

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Greg Jones

Greg Jones

Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — When it opened its Spears Family branch in 2002, YMCA of Greensboro expected the new facility would attract 6,000 members.

With three expansions since that opening, the branch now counts 14,000 members and is getting ready to expand again.

The latest expansion is part of a larger effort that will include selling the Hayes-Taylor Memorial branch, building a new facility to replace it, and continuing to renovate Camp Weaver 10 miles south of downtown.

All those efforts likely will cost over $10 million, says Greg Jones, president and CEO.

The Y plans to pay for the expansion through a combination of private fundraising and income from operations, he says.

The sale of the Hayes-Taylor branch will trigger the capital campaign and eventual construction of the new branch, he says.

Founded in 1889, the Y operates with an annual budget of $14 million and a staff of 500 people, including 80 who work full-time.

In addition to its headquarters, the Y operates six branches plus the camp, serving 35,000 members plus another 25,000 people who participate in its sports and aquatics programs.

Named for Herman Weaver, the late founder of the companies and foundation that bear his name, Camp Weaver serves up to 120 campers for each of 10 one-week sessions in the summer, plus another 150 to 200 day-campers and adults who visit in groups on weekends throughout the year.

The Y provides $500,000 a year in financial assistance to 2,300 families and individuals, and demand for those scholarships is growing, Jones says.

Generating funds for financial assistance is the Y’s annual fundraising campaign, which Jones says has been steady this year compared to last year.

“We have a lot of loyal givers who believe in the mission,” he says.

So while the weak economy has lowered demand for some Y services and increased demand for financial assistance, he says, “our giving is solid.”

The sinking economy also could make it more difficult to raise money from corporations and foundations for the capital projects the Y is planning, he says.

The Y counts on membership dues for half its revenue and program fees for another 21 percent, with the remainder coming from contributions from individuals, foundations, corporations and United Way of Greater Greensboro.

The Y, which raised $14 million in a capital campaign to finance its expansion in 2002, also counts on thousands of volunteers, including roughly 500 who help raise money.

“We’re in difficult times but we’re thankful for the donors and volunteers who continue to support us,” Jones says. “Although we’re facing some down times, we want people to have confidence that the Y is here and will continue to serve as many people as we can.”

The looming recession is a “short-term issue,” he says.

“We all will come out of this,” he says. “We want to be there in the difficult times. We feel good about the long-term and we’re here for folks in the short-term and the long-term.”

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