YMCA visit spurs discussion on benefits to county

By: By Jasmine Hager - For The Record

After a successful kick-off for its summer reading program last Wednesday, the Hampton B. Allen Library hosted another series of events to keep the ball rolling. The adult’s program June 20 featured a presentation from Membership Engagement Director Stephanie Campbell and other staff at the Stanly YMCA.

Librarian Gibby Bachiochi planned the presentation and said she sees a need for a YMCA in Anson.

“Kids don’t have a place to play ball and stay off the streets,” she said. “It’s too hot to play outside and kids end up getting in trouble.”

And Bachiochi said the center wouldn’t only be beneficial for kids, but also for older adults.

“It’s just like the seniors who come here for yoga,” she said. “Each time they come in it’s, ‘Oh, where’s so and so?’ So it’s almost like seeing your friends for that one hour and then being able to do something with them … it builds relationships.”

The YMCA’s mission is, “to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all.”

Campbell explained that her presentation was to extend membership at the Stanly YMCA to Anson residents, but said it’s possible for Anson to build one of its own with enough funds and grants. She encouraged residents to come to the location in Albemarle.

“We already have members who live in Anson and that’s a long drive from here,” she said. “Bachiochi contacted us back in April and she’s a big advocate for YMCA. So our presentation was to share what we have here.”

They offer several programs in their facilities including a cardio fitness center, a gym with two courts, both cool- and warm-water pools, and family locker rooms.

They also offer scholarships, like the Open Doors Scholarship, for members having difficulty paying for programs or their dues. According to the Open Doors Scholarship application, they provide more than $200,000 in financial assistance is provided locally each year.

Karen Gerald, child care services coordinator at the Anson County Partnership for Children, said she thinks having a YMCA in Anson would benefit the community greatly.

“It gives children a place to go that’s safe and also gives them appropriate things to do,” she said.

Dr. Fred Thompson, county health director, said there has been talk of starting a YMCA in Anson County for years.

“It’s been looked at by different people for over the last 20-plus years, but so far it hasn’t come to fruition,” he said.

With Anson’s population of around 26,000, Thompson said he didn’t think it would be enough to support having a YMCA in the area — something Bachiochi said was touched on during the presentation.

“Because it’s membership based, they need to see an interest,” she said. “So they thought of something like a summer camp coming in and working with the kids to see how that goes.”

Campbell expressed interest in coming back to Anson to speak with groups who want to hear more information.

By Jasmine Hager

For The Record