Walton County YMCA still moving forward despite COVID-19

Press release from Walton County YMCA Task Force

Steve Dorough of First Community Development recently gave an update and shared a press release on the current progress of the planned Walton County YMCA.

“Over the last three months, the Walton County YMCA Committee has continued to work behind the scenes on this important project. As you will see in the attachment, we have completed the five-year Strategic Plan for this new YMCA facility and the program it will provide to those who live and work in Walton County. The Committee then implemented a comprehensive Feasibility Analysis to gauge the level of philosophical and financial support for the proposed project. That Feasibility Report recommended moving forward immediately with a fundraising campaign to garner the funds necessary to build the new YMCA facility,” Dorough said. “As we begin to cautiously emerge from the pandemic we all look forward to getting together again soon to make this dream of a Walton County YMCA a reality.” He shared the following press release:

Monroe, GA:   Planning for the new Walton County YMCA is moving forward despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Walton County corporate and community leaders have developed and carefully vetted a dynamic strategy to develop this important addition to the quality of life in the Monroe / Walton community.

In the fall of 2019, the Walton County YMCA Committee developed a Strategic Planning Task Force comprised of forty-five corporate and community leaders throughout the greater Walton County area. Over the next four months, the task force, led by Gary Hobbs, retired Walton County School Superintendent, developed the Walton County YMCA Strategic Plan 2020-2024.

In early December, the YMCA Committee retained First Community Development (FCD) of Atlanta to conduct an independent comprehensive Feasibility Analysis to gauge the philosophical and financial support for the proposed new Walton County YMCA Strategic Plan. FCD interviewed forty-four corporate, community and government leaders during an eight-week period and presented their Report and Recommendations in late February, 2020.

The Feasibility Analysis elicited a wide range of candid responses regarding the proposed Walton County YMCA Strategic Plan, perceptions of the YMCA, and potential support for the development of the new YMCA facility and program in Walton County:

  • 84% of the Walton County leaders interviewed stated that the proposed five-year YMCA Strategic Plan as presented is “excellent, necessary and beneficial.”
  • 61% of the interviewees said they would be willing to serve or would consider serving in a capital campaign to raise the funding to construct the new Y.
  • A fundraising campaign to develop the new Walton County YMCA should be implemented as soon as possible.

When the State of Georgia issued the Shelter in Place order in mid-March, the Walton County YMCA Committee pressed “pause” regarding their plans for raising the funds to underwrite the new Walton County YMCA facility and initial five-year program. However, the Committee has continued to work behind the scenes throughout the pandemic.

“This new Walton County YMCA will be critically important to the health and well-being of Walton County as we ramp our community back up. Having a safe place like the Y where families can go for exercise and recreation is important for our emotional health as well,” said Gary Hobbs. “I wish we could wave a magic wand and have this new YMCA here tomorrow!”

Lee Rowell, whose family has donated the thirty acres where the new YMCA will be constructed, echoed those sentiments. “We are on the right track and this YMCA for Walton County couldn’t come at a better time. This is a program that will serve every man, woman and child who live or work in Walton County. We are excited to get this fundraising initiative underway as soon as the time is right,” Rowell said.

When will the time be right? That’s a question the Walton County YMCA Committee has discussed at each of their monthly meetings. All of the committee members agree that now, as the Walton County community begins to move back into the marketplace and reopen their businesses, is not the right time to be out raising the funding for this important project.

Meredith Malcom, President of Synovus Bank in Walton County and a member of the Committee agrees. “Our Walton County economy is gradually picking back up. Every day we see more people out and about. Yes, there is still some uncertainty, but we believe later this summer, if everything continues to go well, we will all begin to feel more comfortable that we are headed in the right direction. In my mind, that would be the right time for us to focus again on the future of a YMCA for Walton County. Until then, our Walton County YMCA Committee will continue to work behind the scenes to plan for this new facility and its much-needed program in Walton County. We are all excited to build on the momentum for our own Walton County YMCA and hopefully have this new facility in place as soon as possible!”

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