MADISON, NJ - A large crowd gathered on Wednesday to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Madison Area YMCA's facility expansion. As people were chatting and smiling, the common theme when discussing the project was, "this is so exciting" and "it's been a long time coming".
"Today we are here to celebrate a long long planned building project", said Diane Mann, President and CEO of the Madison Area YMCA. "The work has centered on the fact that we are trying to create a physical space, bricks and mortar, a design. But the truth is, what we are celebrating today is the advent of us being able to fill those spaces with services for our community."
"I find this really really exciting", said Scot Guempel, Chairman of the Board of the new build. "In fact, I'm actually thinking to myself that we are actually going to do this. Stop talking about it. We are going to put shovels in the ground and we are going to build this thing".
The facility expansion will include a new aquatics center with an 8-lane competitive pool and spectator section, a full court/two side basketball gymnasium and spectator areas, expanded fitness and wellness spaces, additional multi-use spaces, increased on-site parking and a second entrance and lobby. The expansion aims at making spaces for people to be whole and feel well and to feel socially connected.
Guempel grew up at the Y and told the crowd that he has a strong passion for the place.
"What we are really doing is doing something that others have done before us, which is paying it forward. I didn't build this place but I benefited from it. We are now going to put shovels in the ground and build something that future generations will benefit from for years.
While highlighting what is to come, Mann paused to thank all the donors that helped make the dream become a reality.
"We had the help of thousands of donors who have given large gifts, small gifts, gifts of time and talent", she said.
She also thanked the Board of Directors.
"The 29 community leaders with diverse talents and skills, who tirelessly over the four to five years helped conceive of a project that we knew we could use to meet the needs of the community, but more importantly, a project we could afford".
To help fund the expansion, an anonymous friend of the Y made a commitment to match, dollar for dollar, all gifts made to the expansion project, up to $250,000. The Matching Gift Challenge will run now through November 11.
"I thank everyone for their generosity, every dollar helps", said Guempel. "So now through November 11, its important for us to raise as much money as we can".
The expansion of the Madison Area YMCA Family Center and the increased program capacity will meet the growing needs of children, teens, and adults of all ages.
"This is a great place to live," said Madison Mayor Bob Conley. "Whether it's Madison, Florham Park or the Chathams. It's a tremendous place to be and there are many reasons for that. The great sense of community. The partners that make it a great place to raise a family and the Madison Area YMCA which has had a major role in adding quality of lives for generations."