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What is the Morris YMCA and who can go?

When I sit down to write this article, I typically focus on what’s happening at the Morris Community YMCA. I often consider whether I should spotlight a new program or write about our scholarship fund, which helps to ensure that no one is turned away from the Y based on the ability to pay.

However, recently, it occurred to me that there still are a lot of people in Morris and Grundy County who haven’t had the opportunity to visit our facility and learn about what the Y can offer for their families and our community.

Four years ago, I was one of those people who thought the Y was a place where kids played basketball and adults exercised. But after being a part of this organization for the past four years, I have a much clearer understanding of what the Y is, and just as importantly, what it isn’t.

I thought I would take this opportunity to answer a few of the most commonly asked questions I hear each week at the YMCA.

Do I have to live in-district to participate in YMCA programs?

The Y is a nonprofit, membership-based organization that offers programs in the community to people of all ages. Individuals can choose to maintain a facility membership with unlimited access to branch amenities and lower fees for programs. Or they can enroll as community members.

The Y is not a taxing body. It does not have boundaries or districts for program participation. Our programs are open to everyone.

Does the national organization dictate which programs you can offer in Grundy County?

No. Simply stated, the Y exists to strengthen communities. To achieve that goal, local feedback, individual community needs and member input help to determine which programs and services we offer at the YMCA.

This will be especially important when we begin working to determine the size and scope of our future full facility. With the input of our partners, local volunteers and members, we will work to ensure our full facility will meet the needs of the community and remain sustainable for years to come. 

How is the Morris Community YMCA connected to the Joliet YMCA and YMCA of the USA?

While each Y is as individual as the communities it serves, it also is part of a nationwide network. As an organization, the YMCA has been in existence for 173 years.

At its core, the Y’s mission is to provide programs that promote healthy spirit, mind and body for all.

Our national organization, Y-USA, offers a wealth of resources, expertise and experience to support local branches. Locally, the Morris Community YMCA is part of the Greater Joliet Area YMCA (GJAY) association.

The GJAY has a distinguished history of success, and has been serving residents in Will, Grundy and Kendall counties for nearly 90 years. Our association serves more than 23,000 members at our four facilities.

As we continue to plan for a full-facility YMCA in Grundy County, I look forward to working with our community to design a YMCA that meets the needs of our residents for generations to come.

It is reassuring to know that we will move forward together on this journey with more than 170 years of knowledge, experience and lessons learned to lean on.

If you would like to learn more about the Y, my door is always open. I encourage you to stop by our Wauponsee Street location any time to see what the Y can do for you and your family.

• Missy Durkin is the executive director for the Morris branch of the Greater Joliet Area YMCA. Community Pulse is a weekly column that provides a dedicated space for Grundy County-area nonprofits, schools, organizations and sometimes Morris Herald-News staff to share news and information about their organization.

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