It was a sad, yet happy occasion Sunday afternoon when individuals gathered at the Kosciusko Community YMCA to say goodbye to the 50-year-old facility, to celebrate a new facility and hear what the new building owners are planning.
Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer, Kosciusko Community YMCA Board President Michael Coon, YMCA Executive Director Chad Zaucha; Don Reap, the first general secretary for the YMCA; Karen Garrard, current board member; and Tracy Furnivall, Baker Youth Club executive director, were the guest speakers at an official closing ceremony.
Thallemer talked of his experience with the Y and stated it has been an integral part of the community and foundation for many things people do in the community – Christianity, mind, body, spirit. “That’s a lot of what this community is about.” He recalled one individual – Pat Berkey – who he felt was the spirit of the YMCA. Berkey taught thousands of kids in the community how to swim in the 1970s.
Garrard was a part of the original planning of the YMCA in 1962 in the formation, ideas and building of the existing facility. She reflected on what Warsaw was like in 1965, the family operated businesses in the area and stated it was a time before Biomet, the Kosciusko Community Foundation, computers and cellphones.
In October 1965 the building on East Smith Street was dedicated with 23 charter members. She stated there was courage and vision then, as there is today to provide a facility for the community. “There was a need and families wanted a safe place to come and have fun for their kids. Teenagers needed a safe place to hang out … Dr. Karl Schrader took up the torch in the beginning … the fundraising began, businesses and families all chipped in.”
Reap traveled from Tipton for the occasion, briefly sharing how he became the first general secretary (the forerunner of the executive director) and the naming of the Y as the Kosciusko Community YMCA.
Coon and Zaucha expressed appreciation to those attending and stated the joy of looking forward to the new facility. Cook spoke of the goals of the board for the future of the existing site. “We were fortunate to partner with Baker,” he said. “… works out well for Warsaw and the surrounding area.”
“Thank our community, donors, staff … really making YMCA happen the last 50 some years … really the people who make it happen, why the YMCA has been so successful,” said Zaucha.
Furnivall officially accepted the keys to the building from Zaucha and spoke of the plans for the facility. Exterior remodeling will be taking place after Dec. 5, including the filling in of the pools, adding spot windows and closing off some stairways. The goal is to open the new facility by June 8, the first day of BYC’s summer programs. He also shared how BYC acquired the Y facility.
The new Kosciusko Community YMCA will have a grand opening Dec. 5.