In the Y’s early years, self-confidence, along with swimming skills, were developed among Marion’s boys in the Y’s tiny pool, where the ceiling was so low most adults had to bow their heads when standing on the deck. Although “YMCA” is an acronym for “Young Men’s Christian Association,” the Marion Y has included women since it first opened.
“For 125 years, we’ve helped individuals and families improve their well-being,” said executive director Theresa Lubke. “With approximately 250,000 visits to our facility each year, we help people of all abilities and fitness levels meet their well-being goals–from the woman who lost nearly 300 pounds, to the weekend athlete who ran his first marathon.”
Today, the Y’s work in youth development includes preschool education, mentoring, youth sports, and teen leadership. One such program is Marion Mentors 21. This community collaboration supports the development of one-on-one relationships between a volunteer adult role model and a student. Now in its fourth year, Marion Mentors has matched more than 100 children with caring adult mentors through a partnership which includes the Marion City Schools, the Boys & Girls Club, United Way, faith communities and local businesses. Youth who regularly met with their mentors reported achieving a majority of their school-based goals and mentored youth demonstrated an increase in important developmental assets.
The Y has a number of healthy living partnerships, including OhioHealth’s Delay the Disease for individuals with Parkinson’s disease, water exercise for individuals with arthritis, Super Kids for children who struggle with their weight and group exercise classes in which members provide support to one another. A partnership with OhioHealth McConnell Heart Health Center created an osteoporosis program to improve bone health. It offers classes in nutrition, medication, and physical therapy, including fitness work and balance improvement.
Partners are the core of the Creating Healthy Communities (CHC) Coalition. The Y, Marion Public Health, OSU Extension, Marion Public Library, OhioHealth, Regional Planning, The Ohio State University at Marion, Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Downtown Marion and more are some of the dozens of businesses and organizations that are working together to help everyone in Marion be as healthy as possible. These partnerships have led to programs such as the Downtown Farmers’ Market, Mobile Food Pantry, and community gardens.
One of the most noticeable new developments at the Y is a $500,000 Wellness Center expansion on the front of the building. The expansion, which is nearing completion, will add 2,000 square feet to the existing Wellness Center, giving members more space to stretch, lift weights, and do their individual workouts. It will also give the organization room to add more equipment in the future. The expansion was started at the suggestion of a member who donated enough to fund 80 percent of the project.
The Y also recently added an outdoor walking trail and improved soccer fields south of the facility. These improvements and expansions are available to the Y’s 7,781 members.
The Marion Family YMCA is open daily for 100+ hours a week and has memberships based on household size and income level, as well as scholarships and discounts available for groups such as veterans and SilverSneakers. The Y is governed by a 16-member board currently chaired by Matt Frericks. Additional information is available by calling the Y at 740-725-9622.