Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Business

July 9, 2011

Revamped, ready to grow

Kokomo YMCA sees membership increase after building upgrades

— Fresh paint, new furniture and tweaks to services have led to “dramatic” increases in the Kokomo Family YMCA’s membership, the organization’s leaders said last week.

Lime- and turquoise-colored walls brighten up the century-old building’s once drab lobby and hallways. A cafe stand, Wi-Fi, a public conference room and an area with tables and chairs have been among the ways the YMCA has tried to focus more on the social aspect of the organization’s services.

Trish Severns, the YMCA’s director of operations, repeated phrases such as “family-friendly” and “social” as she strolled through the redone building last week.

“We wanted to brighten it up,” she said. “It’s a 1910 building. We just thought a little more warmth would be more welcoming.”

The changes led to a 54.2 percent increase in new memberships during June compared to the same month a year earlier.

Dave Dubois, executive director of the YMCA, said staff signed up 74 people in June, which is traditionally a slow time of year as people turn more to outdoor recreation during the warm months. The YMCA had 48 new members in June 2010 and dipped as low as 32 registrations in June ’08, Dubois said.

As the YMCA treads through the recession’s remaining hindrances, membership for all of 2011 so far has been at its third highest level in 14 years, Severns said.

The remodeling work, which has a budget of $205,000, was a response to member input and consumer surveys.

A national study of all YMCA’s revealed 32 percent of members identified their Ys as social organizations. Forty-one percent of respondents in Kokomo had the same answer, “which tells us our Y is a much more social, relational place,” Dubois said.

Work began in March on the building, which has been at the corner of Union and Walnut streets since 1910.

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