On Jan. 5, 2015, the Morris Community YMCA opened its doors in downtown Morris for the very first time. On that day, no one was sure what the future would hold, how well the facility would be received, or how quickly the community would embrace the new programs and services that would be introduced. Now, five years later, it is hard to imagine what it would be like if the YMCA didn’t have a daily presence in Grundy County. The residents of Grundy County have welcomed the Morris YMCA into the community with open arms, and we will forever be grateful for the warm reception we have received.
Over the past five years, we have welcomed thousands of members through our doors who were seeking a healthier lifestyle, a place to belong, and a connection to others with similar goals. We have witnessed incredible transformation stories for people who started with an aspiration to lose weight, and in the process found renewed confidence as they achieved their health and wellness goals.
The Y has had the privilege of being a part of milestones for our members, sharing in their joy and supporting them through difficult times. In just five short years, we have made an impact with youth programming and childcare programs. We have watched children grow up before our eyes, and felt immense pride watching them transition from campers to leaders in training in our summer day camp program.
We are also incredibly proud of our partnership with Morris Hospital and the work we have done together over the past five years. Together, we have launched a Prescription for Fitness program that provides free 30-day memberships for patients referred to the Y by Morris Hospital physicians. We have also collaborated with the hospital’s cardiac rehab and physical therapy departments to develop a referral program designed to help patients sustain a wellness plan while transitioning from the hospital to the Y.
We have also partnered in our joint facility to provide a home for the hospital’s senior fitness classes, which our free and open to the community, and introduced a variety of new fitness programs, including a new prenatal fitness class which launched last year.
Our work together continues to go beyond the walls of the branch to include community events and initiatives, such as our Friends and Family CPR classes, which launched in the community in 2019. As we plan for the future, we know there is so much more we can do together to improve the health and well-being of area residents and we look forward to sharing more in the months ahead.
As we have worked hard to establish our footprint in the community, we have also learned a great deal about our past. We reflect often about our youth basketball leagues first getting underway in 2006 in Morris and Grundy County. However, with the help of area residents, we have learned of YMCA ventures that date back to the early 1970’s and 1980’s, when the YMCA offered youth sports programs in Morris schools.
As we commemorate the start of our fifth year on Wauponsee Street, we feel it’s important to reflect on our history in Grundy County for two very important reasons. First, the ongoing efforts to bring a full-facility YMCA to Grundy County cements the belief that local residents have longed for quality programs and services, like the ones the Y provides, for decades.
The second reason is to celebrate the strong roots that have been established by the YMCA in Grundy County over the past five years. With the help of our amazing volunteers, we are more confident than ever that the resources are in place to develop a next generation Y facility right here in Grundy County.
As excited as we are to share more about that future in the year ahead, I want to encourage the community to take note of what is happening at the YMCA now! With the start of a new year, many of us are working towards accomplishing our new year’s resolutions.
At the Y, we have an incredible wellness team waiting to support those efforts. Now is a great time to join the Y and get started on your wellness journey because our January sale is underway and will run through the end of the month. And, as a reminder, the Y’s financial assistance program helps to ensure that no one is turned away due to the inability to pay.
In the coming year, we are also excited to be expanding our youth sports programs thanks to a new partnership with the Morris Athletic Association. Beginning this spring, MAA will transition leadership of its 8 and under youth baseball and softball programs to the YMCA.
In the coming year, we will also be offering a number of recreational sports programs for adults, including volleyball, basketball and everyone’s favorite, Pickleball. Our before and after school Kid Zone program will continue at District 54 and Saratoga Elementary, and we are looking forward to another amazing camp season this summer in Morris and Coal City.
As you can see, 2020 is already shaping up to be another incredible year at the Morris Y! In 2020, our annual campaign theme is “We’re Here for Good”….and you can count on that!
• Missy Durkin is the executive director of the Greater Joliet Area YMCA