Party kicks off YMCA’s 50th anniversary


By Melanie Speicher - mspeicher@sidneydailynews.com



Virginia Matz and Mark Kaufman look through old photos as they help prepare a display at the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA for its 50th anniversary celebration..

Virginia Matz and Mark Kaufman look through old photos as they help prepare a display at the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA for its 50th anniversary celebration..


Courtesy photo

Kevin Behr, Y Board vice president, Mark Kaufman, financial development director, and David O’Leary, operations director, look at an old photo of the YMCA building.


Courtesy photo

July celebration planned

SIDNEY — While the anniversary kick off is planned for April 21, the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA has also planned a large celebration in July.

“The Y-FEST is a community celebration,” said Executive Director Ed Thomas. “We want this to be our new signature event going forward. There are sponsored opportunities for businesses and individuals.”

The Y-FEST presented by Wilson Health will be held Saturday, July 21, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“They are our main sponsor,” said Thomas. “We have a very strong and wonderful partnership with Wilson Health.”

One of the events planned for July 21, said Thomas, is to create the largest Y symbol. A photograph of the YMCA logo will be taken by a drone during the event.

“We’re going to fill it with lots and lots of people,” said Thomas.”This will be a keepsake we’re going to keep around for the next 50 years.”

While plans are still being finalized for the event, bands and food trucks will be on hand for the day-long festival. There will be entertainment, midway games, inflatables and activities for the entire family.

A corporate wellness challenge is also planned for the event. There will be a 4-miler, 3-on-3 basketball tournament, dodgeball tournament, fitness pentathlon, co-ed volleyball tournament and cardboard boat challenge.

To participate in the wellness challenge, contact David O’Leary, 937-492-9134, ex. 205, or email, doleary@sidney-ymca.org.

To become a Y-FEST sponsor, contact Mark Kaufman, 937-492-9134, ext. 236, or email, mkaufman@sidney-ymca.org.

SIDNEY — It’s time to party!

The Sidney-Shelby County YMCA is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. To kick off the celebration, a party is being planned for Saturday, April 21. The event will be held in conjunction with the Y’s Healthy Kids Day and Health Fair, which is sponsored by the YMCA, city of Sidney, Senior Center of Sidney-Shelby County, Wilson Health and Ohio Living Dorothy Love. The Health Fair and Healthy Kids Day activities will be held from 9 a.m. to noon.

“We’ll kick off the anniversary celebration in the youth center at 10:30 a.m.,” said David O’Leary, operations director. “Mayor Mike Barhorst will be here with a proclamation as will the Shelby County Commissioners. Then we’ll have a re-enactment about George Williams, the 1844 pioneer of the YMCA in London, England.”

The celebration will also include the history and birth of the Sidney YMCA. Those present will sing “Happy Anniversary (Birthday). Candles will be blown out and cake and ice cream will be served.

“We will have party gifts for all those who come to the event,” said O’Leary. “Birthday invitations have been sent to the friends of the YMCA.”

A YMCA museum is being established in the front lobby, said Ed Thomas, executive director.

The birth of the Sidney YMCA

“Sidney had tried to get a YMCA here twice before getting it done,” said Dick Henke, 93, of Brandenton, Florida. He, along with other community leaders, were instrumental in bringing a YMCA to Sidney.

“I was on the Sidney-Shelby County Community Foundation and the Chamber of Commerce,” he said. “It was brought up at a chamber meeting. At the time, I owned and operated Sidney Dairy Products. I was also on the bank board. I wanted to get involved with doing something for the community.”

A survey of Sidney residents was completed, he said, to see how they felt about the construction of a YMCA in Sidney.

“We visited Piqua and Lima, which had YMCAs, to see how they did things,” said Henke.

Henke was appointed to chair a committee to research establishing a YMCA in Sidney on April 6, 1966. John Toncray was hired as the executive secretary (executive director) on Jan. 25, 1968.

On April 5, 1968, a national charter was received for the local YMCA. Henke was the first president of the YMCA. The first YMCA was opened in an office at the Ohio Building.

“We would work out in one of the gyms at Sidney High School,” said Henke.

Tom Watkins was the second president of the YMCA.

” I have always enjoyed seeing families participate in the Y programs and have been pleased to be part of making that possible,” said Watkins. “The ongoing creation of social capital is extremely important for every community and the YMCA staff and members have made that happen in Sidney and Shelby County.”

The journey of the YMCA to its present location of Parkwood Street went through the National Guard Armory Building. In June 1969, Bill Ross Jr. offered to purchase the 5 acre Folkerth Junkyard and donate the property to the YMCA. Ross purchased the land in December 1969.

“My parents, Bill and Betty Ross, purchased and donated the land of our current YMCA,” said Dave Ross. “Both believed in the Y’s mission and saw a modern Y as critical to Sidney’s development and profile. I share those beliefs and have enthusiastically supported what they helped to create.”

In November 1971, with John Dunathan as executive director, a capital campaign to raise $850,000 was kicked off. Frank Gleason Jr. agreed to chair the capital campaign.

Under Gleason’s leadership, the campaign raised more than $1.4 million. Ferguson Construction Company received the contract to bid the new YMCA. A groundbreaking ceremony was held Nov. 4, 1974, and the cornerstone was placed.

After several executive directors were hired and then left the YMCA, Dennis Ruble was hired as the executive director in 1980.

“Dennis Ruble was our first real director,” said Henke. “He was an absolute magnificent Y director. He did a tremendous job.”

Henke said the YMCA has done many wonderful things for Sidney and Shelby County.

“It’s a wonderful organization,” Henke said. “I met some wonderful people at the YMCA.”

Bruce Boyd joined the YMCA when he moved to Sidney in 1971.

” I joined the Y primarily to participate in the adult men’s basketball league at the Armory, now the Senior Center,” said Boyd. “I soon became involved in the initial capital campaign to raise money to build the Parkwood Avenue. facility. My involvement continues today as a member of the YMCA Foundation Board.

“Through my involvement in the Y, I have made life-long friendships that have impacted both my personal and professional life. These relationships are one of the primary reasons I have made Sidney my home for the past 47 years,” said Boyd.

“The YMCA is one of the most important contributors to the quality of life in our community. From its broad range of fitness and health enhancement programs to quality infant and child care, the Y is an invaluable asset to the community. The investment this community has made in the YMCA has and will continue to pay dividends for current and future generations.”

Rich Wallace also joined the YMCA after he moved to Sidney in 1976 as a young attorney. He has been a member ever since.

“I have always been a runner, cyclist and swimmer. The Y allowed me to pursue all three sports. I also played volleyball in a league and racquetball (when I was much younger!),” said Wallace. “It (YMCA) has been a center piece of my physical activities for certain. I have been part of a 5 a.m. running group which leaves from the Y for over 20 years. I served on the board and several committees for many years. The Y has also been involved in several faith-based initiatives, mainly under the guidance of Ed Thomas. Those have been very important to me.

“The Y plays and has always played an important role what the community is about. It is at its center in many ways. The Y’s board has been a training ground for many community leaders who have gone on to lead other important organizations. In that sense and many others, such as child care, its importance transcends the physical activities realm. The community would not be the same without the Y,” said Wallace.

Virginia Matz remembers the early days

Virginia Matz first became involved with the YMCA when someone asked her to help sell annual memberships in 1968 or 1969.

“At that time the Y was in the Armory/Senior Center – also there was a teen center across from the Spot, and I had two teenagers who used the facility, so I was interested in a YMCA in Sidney – and two younger kids who would benefit from having a Y in Sidney,” said Matz. “I sold memberships each year for several years, and then was asked to serve on the Board, which I did also for many years.

“I have found the Y to be very important in my life – have used the facility ever since it opened on Parkwood, and still work out 2 or 3 times a week,” she said. “I think it is very beneficial to the community to have the Y available to everyone – the daycare center is a big asset for Sidney parents, and all the programs offered to kids and adults are a big plus for the whole community.”

A family affair

Jerry Vanderhorst found a home at the YMCA when he was in school and that home has grown to include his wife and children.

“The YMCA is where I went to play basketball in junior high and high school. Later, I fell in love with the sport of Volleyball and played in the YMCA league for almost 20 years,” said Vanderhorst. “But I can’t say I really got involved in giving back to the YMCA until my wife Angie and I were looking for activities for our oldest daughter, Lauren. Lauren, wanted to try gymnastics so we signed her up when she was about 8 or 9 years old. The kinetics program was ran by Shirley Sprague with guidance from Sam Casalano.

“They really taught my daughter the four pillars of the YMCA which are Caring, Honesty, Responsibility and Respect. I saw my daughter not only grow in her gymnastic talents but as a person,” said Vanderhorst. “That was the moment that I knew I wanted to help foster this type of environment for not only my own kids but for others as well. Angie and I as well as almost all the Gymnastic parents were very involved with making sure the program was supported and successful by Volunteering, raising funds through food concessions, etc… In 2003, Dennis Ruble, the YMCA CEO, asked me to consider being on the board of directors. I accepted and that was when I found out what the YMCA really does!

“You don’t really get to see how much the YMCA touches all of our lives in this community until you see the YMCA in full swing. Everyone knows the YMCA was a place to swim and play in the gym, but there were so many more incredible programs! The YMCA really is the hub of community activities. We reach out to all walks of life with programs from our Child Development, Group Fitness Classes, Youth Sports and Kinetics Programs, Diabetes Prevention Classes, Parkinson Classes, Special Need Cheerleader Squad, Teen Leaders Club, etc.,,” said Vanderhorst.

“When the local economy wasn’t doing so well in the mid-2000s, we put together a free program to help people in the community develop their job seeking skills. We collaborated with many other local agencies that needed support or just a place to meet. What really hit home for me, was when I became the chair for our Annual Community Partners Campaign,” he said. “There was so many testimonials that I heard of how the YMCA changed their lives for the better. I was hooked at that point and knew I wanted to continue to serve.

“The other very unique thing at the YMCA was the amount of caring staffs and volunteers it took to run it. You don’t go to work at the YMCA to get wealthy but you do become rich by the way you touch and help so many lives. I have been blessed to know some incredible people who care so deeply for the YMCA. Ed Thomas, The Late Dennis Ruble, Sam Casalano, Shirley Sprague, Paul Waldsmith, David O’Leary, Bob Eck, Virginia Matz and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If anyone ever knew any of these people, they know how deeply they care about our community and about the people they serve. It’s all about giving back!

“Giving back became a family affair at the YMCA for us. I served on the Board for 14 years and became board president. Angie, my wife, was the president of the Parent Gymnastic Booster Club for quite a few years. Lauren (Daughter) and Adam (Son) were each president of the Teen Leaders Club at different times. Teen Leaders Club is where Teens give back their time and talents to the YMCA through volunteering at YMCA events.

“Adam became the first LBT from Sidney-Shelby County YMCA. LBT Stands for Leader Board Trustee for the Multi-State YMCA Leaders Training School. LTS is held every summer for an entire week of camp for all YMCA Leader Clubs. You get elected at LTS by running for office. He was one of three elected out of about 300 participants. LBT involved coordinating the next year’s LTS programs and agendas. Then help facilitate and guide those programs at LTS. It was an incredible experience for him.

“Alex, my youngest son, is still in the Teen Leaders Club and wants to follow his sibling’s footsteps and become President of the club in the future. Currently, Lauren works part time for the YMCA as the Leader Club Coordinator and continues to help out in the kinetics program when she can get away from her college studies.

“And lastly, the one value that continues to drive me to support the YMCA and to make sure it continues to be successful is the “C” in the YMCA! As our YMCA Mission statement goes, ‘To put Christian principles into practice to benefit all Shelby County residents through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.’ The YMCA has taught us a lot and has given my family more than we can give it. I can’t wait to see what the next 50 years at the YMCA looks like!” said Vanderhorst.

Police chief plays active role at the YMCA

Sidney Police Chief Will Balling has been a member of the YMCA for most of his life.

“When I was young I learned to swim at the YMCA and then was a member of their swim team. As I grew older I experienced many good times at the YMCA and eventually worked part time for a YMCA,” said Balling.

“When I became a Sidney Police Officer in 1994, I joined the Sidney Shelby County YMCA. I have been an active member ever since then. In 2012, I had the opportunity to join the board and wanted to learn more about what the YMCA did,” said Balling. “I knew that it was a great place to work out and met up with friends. I knew that it was a safe place that you could bring your kids for activities. I knew that the staffs made you feel like family when you were there. What I did not know was all the other activities that the Sidney YMCA was involved in. Joining the board gave me that opportunity.

“I have served on the board for the last 6 years and I have learned about what the YMCA does for our community. It has also allowed me to grow as a person. I currently have the privilege to be the current board president of the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA,” he said.

The YMCA, said Balling, plays a vital role in the community.

“I did not realize how important a YMCA was until I came to Sidney and learned about what all the Sidney Shelby County YMCA does in our community. Some people once labeled the YMCA the country club on the north part of town. That is the farthest thing from the truth. The YMCA is involved in so many programs in our community. From being an active member on the Shelby County Drug Task Force team to being involved in youth programs to helping older individuals live a better quality of life the YMCA is doing so much to help our community. When I mention that the YMCA helps everyone I meant everyone. The programs start at an early age and with partners in the community they try not to let cost stand in the way. They have a splash program in the summer to help kids learn about water safety to a new delay the disease for Parkinson patients that is doing amazing things,” said Balling.

“One of the other programs that the YMCA runs is a child development center. When looking for daycare you want to be able to take your kids to a safe environment where the kids will be nurtured and watched over. The Sidney YMCA is a leader in the child care field and has obtained a three star rating through the state quality licensing system for their childcare (only non governmental program in Sidney to obtain this). When parents drop off their kids at the YMCA they know they will be taken care of by people who care,” Balling said.

“The Sidney Shelby County YMCA tries to give back to those in need and subsidizes memberships and daycare when needed. They do not want to see people not be able to use the YMCA services just because they cannot afford it. It has allowed parents to work and know that their children are safe,” said Balling. “Currently the YMCA is exploring what they can do to help Shelby County with their day care issue. There are so many parents that are unable to find quality day care providers in our county. The YMCA is actively working to see if they can help address these needs in the future because it is one of the greatest concerns in Shelby County.

“In short the Sidney Shelby County YMCA is a critical part of Shelby County and is not just a recreational facility. It is a healthy facility, a day care provider, a classroom and a safe place to be with your family and friends,” said Balling.

A short walk to the YMCA

“I grew up directly across the street from the YMCA, so my first encounters with the YMCA were in the swimming pool with Mary Jannides’ swim team and in the basketball gym with the YBA program,” said Kurt Barhorst. “There were many nights in my teen years that Dennis Ruble had to turn out the lights in the gym on my friends and me to get us to leave. On a professional level, I participated in the Chamber of Commerce Leadership program and was placed on the YMCA Board of Directors as an intern and then transitioned into a full member at the end of that year.”

“As a youth, the YMCA was extremely important in developing friendships and skills related to the many sports programs I participated in. Many of my friends today are still relationships I made during those days. Today, the YMCA is important to me as a father because it allows my sons to participate and learn the same skills that I did. Likewise, as a husband it offers opportunities for my wife and I to spend quality time together exercising,” Barhorst said.

“The YMCA is one of our community’s greatest assets. Many people associate the YMCA with an opportunity to swim or exercise, but it does so much more than that. In addition to the sports and fitness based opportunities, the YMCA offers a strong child development program allowing our youth to grow up in a safe and educational atmosphere. A large percentage of the child development participants would not be able to afford access to such a strong program if it were not for the funding the YMCA raises and receives to support this initiative. They offer educational programs to support members in our community dealing with diseases such as Diabetes and Parkinson’s to name a few. I would encourage anyone to get involved with the YMCA to learn more about all of the great things they do for Sidney and Shelby County,” said Barhorst.

Healthy Kids Day

The Healthy Kids Day activities include food, games and prizes, children’s activities including face painting, book fair, fun run, healthy snacks, touch-a-truck, kids fitness challenge, mad scientist, archery demonstration and bike rodeo with bike checks and helmet fittings. American Red Cross Shelby County Historical Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Shelby & Darke County, Shelby County Counselling Center and Minster Bank will also be participating in the event.

Sponsors for Healthy Kids Day are Ashley Himes State Farm, Western & Southern Financial Group, Alvetro Orthodonics, Ohio Early Intervention and Help Me Grow, Sidney Hometown Pharmacy and Wilson Health.

Health and Awareness Fair

The Shelby County Health and Awareness Fair includes health screenings for lipid profile and glucose and blood pressure, health information and light refreshments. Also participating in the health fair are Head Start-Council on Rural Services, Tri County Board of Recovery & MH Services, Orthopedic Associates of SW Ohio, Shelby County Right To Life, Seniormark LLC, Edward Jones, Elizabeth’s New Life Center/ Women’s Center-Sidney, DoTERRA, Shelby County Department of Job and Family Services, Western & Southern Financial Group, Wilson Health, Bunny’s Pharmacy, American Cancer Society Shelby County Relay For Life, Sidney-Shelby County Health Deptartment, Primary EyeCare Associates, Evers Dental Care, Dr. Jeff Van Treese, DDS, Salm, McGill and Tangeman Funeral Home, Catholic Social Services, Ohio Living Dorothy Love, city of Sidney, Senior Center of Sidney Shelby County, Enhanced Vision, Total Fitness and Sidney Shelby County YMCA

Virginia Matz and Mark Kaufman look through old photos as they help prepare a display at the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA for its 50th anniversary celebration..
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2018/04/web1_VirginiaMatz-and-MarkKaufman-1.jpgVirginia Matz and Mark Kaufman look through old photos as they help prepare a display at the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA for its 50th anniversary celebration.. Courtesy photo

Kevin Behr, Y Board vice president, Mark Kaufman, financial development director, and David O’Leary, operations director, look at an old photo of the YMCA building.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2018/04/web1_Behr-Kaufman-Oleary-1.jpgKevin Behr, Y Board vice president, Mark Kaufman, financial development director, and David O’Leary, operations director, look at an old photo of the YMCA building. Courtesy photo

https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2018/04/web1_The-Y_50th-Logo_final2-copy-2-1.jpgCourtesy photo

By Melanie Speicher

mspeicher@sidneydailynews.com

July celebration planned

SIDNEY — While the anniversary kick off is planned for April 21, the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA has also planned a large celebration in July.

“The Y-FEST is a community celebration,” said Executive Director Ed Thomas. “We want this to be our new signature event going forward. There are sponsored opportunities for businesses and individuals.”

The Y-FEST presented by Wilson Health will be held Saturday, July 21, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“They are our main sponsor,” said Thomas. “We have a very strong and wonderful partnership with Wilson Health.”

One of the events planned for July 21, said Thomas, is to create the largest Y symbol. A photograph of the YMCA logo will be taken by a drone during the event.

“We’re going to fill it with lots and lots of people,” said Thomas.”This will be a keepsake we’re going to keep around for the next 50 years.”

While plans are still being finalized for the event, bands and food trucks will be on hand for the day-long festival. There will be entertainment, midway games, inflatables and activities for the entire family.

A corporate wellness challenge is also planned for the event. There will be a 4-miler, 3-on-3 basketball tournament, dodgeball tournament, fitness pentathlon, co-ed volleyball tournament and cardboard boat challenge.

To participate in the wellness challenge, contact David O’Leary, 937-492-9134, ex. 205, or email, doleary@sidney-ymca.org.

To become a Y-FEST sponsor, contact Mark Kaufman, 937-492-9134, ext. 236, or email, mkaufman@sidney-ymca.org.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.