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Effingham Y celebrates 10 years
09.18 Y file
The Effingham YMCA is marking 10 years of service to the community. The Y opened its 31,500 square foot building on July 7, 2007. - photo by File photo

The Effingham YMCA began as a dream of three community leaders. In the early 1990s, state Rep. Ann R. Purcell, Pete Lancaster and Toby Tyler began to discuss the need for a YMCA in Effingham County. They all believed in the mission of the Y and thought that it would be a great asset to the community.  

In 1999, the dream became a reality as the YMCA opened its doors, operating out of the United Way Service Center in Rincon. The 2,500 square foot facility was the seed that was planted hoping to grow into a full service YMCA.  

For the first several years, the YMCA worked from the United Way building and offered programs with the help of other community organizations to offer programs throughout the county. The first summer day camp was held at Springfield Central Elementary. Many churches shared their space, to name a few, First Christian Church of Rincon, Rincon Church of God, Rincon Baptist Temple and currently Grace Community Church.  

Effingham Recreation and Rincon Recreation departments helped the YMCA when possible, sharing their field and building spaces for programs. St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System allowed the YMCA to use one of their buildings for the YMCA after school program and day camp.  

This is a perfect example of how the YMCA grows, community members working together to build support and participation in YMCA programs.

After much planning, fund raising, community involvement, and good ole’ fashioned sweat, construction began on a new 31,500 square foot building in April 2006 and on July 7, 2007, the Effingham YMCA held the grand opening for its new state of the art facility.  

This facility boasts a full service fitness center, cycling, aerobics, a childcare wing including three classrooms and a youth gym, a basketball/volleyball gym, locker rooms and an aquatic complex with Junior Olympic pool, kiddie pool and sprayground. There is still room to grow on the 14-plus acres generously donated by Ron Van Den Heuvel of VOS Electric. Future plans include building a picnic pavilion, playground and sports fields.  

The Effingham YMCA has grown a great deal in the last 10 years, but has not changed its purpose — to focus on the mission, which is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all. The YMCA is a non-profit organization, focusing on being able to deliver this mission through their facility and programs. They maintain their non-profit status by not turning anyone away due to their inability to pay. The YMCA participates in a fundraising campaign every year to raise funds to pay for the scholarships they offer for everything from childcare to membership to the facility.  

Executive Director Kim Dennis can’t believe how quickly 10 years has passed.

“I have had the privilege of being the executive director from November 1999 and have thoroughly enjoyed every new milestone the Effingham YMCA has reached,” she said. “The pinnacle was moving into our new facility in 2007, I cried with joy that day.”   

Because the YMCA is developed by community members, there are always opportunities to create new programs based on the communities needs.  Most recently the YMCA has established a Christian Leadership Academy program that works with teens. New programs to look for during the next few months include Georgia Lottery-funded pre-k and preschool gymnastics.

“The volunteers and staff would like to thank Effingham County for its support over the last 10 years,” Dennis said. “We look forward to continuing to nurture the residents of Effingham County and the surrounding areas and hope to continue to build strong kids, strong families and a strong community.”