JERSEY SHORE - Recently finishing a renovation project of about 6,000 square feet, the Jersey Shore YMCA, 826 Allegeheny St., showed off the new areas at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday night.
"It's nice to be able to offer space at the YMCA that is appealing to people," said Dave Fagerstrom, River Valley Regional YMCA president and CEO.
Work on the area, which previously was a bowling alley but had not been used in years, began in August. The section of the building now holds the Shangraw Wellness Center, an aerobics room and free-weight room.
Barb Schmouder, chairwoman of the
advisory board of the Jersey Shore YMCA, above left, collects scissors following a
ribbon cutting by members of the Shangraw family for the Jersey Shore YMCA’s Shangraw Wellness Center Wednesday. To her left is Jim and his wife, Betty (Shangraw) Allen, and Bob and his wife, Charlene Shangraw, of Jersey Shore. The Shangraw family donated most of the money for the center in honor of Bob and Betty’s parents, John and Mabel Shangraw.
Laura McMahon, executive director, said she was "shocked" to see the transformation from a storage area to three new activity spaces.
"I was excited," McMahon remembered feeling when she first saw the new spaces. "I was excited to get people in here."
The idea of an update to the Y began five years ago, but because of hard economic times, the project was postponed. But after Barb Schmouder, chairwoman of the YMCA advisory board, toured the area, she said she wanted something done to it.
Thanks to donations and contributions from the community, the project was completed within a year.
"This community stepped up big time," Fagerstrom said.
"I was shocked ... It happened so fast that I had trouble keeping up with it. It looks like a totally different room," McMahon said.
One group of donors, Robert and Charlene Shangraw and James and Betty Shangraw Allen, were recognized at the ceremony. The wellness center was named in memory of Robert and Betty's parents, John and Mabel Shangraw.
When speaking about why he wanted to give back to the Y, Robert said it was a safe place for him to go after school.
"My home away from home was this very room," he said about the area the wellness center now occupies.
Robert added that a volunteer named Louie Carpenter always helped him when looking for a ride home from football practice or something to eat. He added that it was an opportunity for him to give back for the help he received at the Y as a student.
"I'm just happy that my sister, Betty, and I are able to do this," he said.
Burt Francis, a borough resident, also spoke about how his experiences at the Y molded who he was. Sharing stories about times at the Y, Francis pointed out the exact location in the room that he met his now wife while on leave from the U.S. Navy 61 years ago.
Fagerstrom added that the Y always has been a place where the community members can come and make friends.
He said he hopes the facility will encourage community members to either get in better health or stay in shape. With higher and higher obesity rates, Fagerstrom said a healthy lifestyle is a must.
"This community here in Jersey Shore is trying to do something about it," he said of the higher obesity rates.
McMahon said new programs, such as Zumba and spin classes, already have begun in the new area and are popular.
The Y now is working on a new teen center in a space occupied by racquetball courts.