West Cook YMCA celebrates 110 years with open house Jan. 26
Caleb Fields of Legacy Sports Camp leads a group of children through some basketball drills. West Cook YMCA kicked off its 110th anniversary with an Open House Saturday. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 1, 2013 6:28AM
OAK PARK — The West Cook YMCA will kick off its year-long 110th anniversary with an open house from 9:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26.
Festivities begin at 9:45 a.m. and run through 2 p.m. at the faclity, 255 S. Marion St., Oak Park.
Donors and community members will view $260,000 in recent renovations throughout the Y’s 60-year-old building.
The nonprofit charitable organization serves more than 12,000 people in 10 west suburban communities: Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park, Bellwood, Elmwood Park, Franklin Park, Maywood, Melrose Park, River Grove and Stone Park.
More than 100 weekly programs and classes are conducted either in the Marion Street building or in outreach at facilities throughout the west suburban communities served by the West Cook YMCA.
“Families, single adults, seniors, teens and youth of all ages are invited to tour the West Cook YMCA. However, our real invitation is to residents of the communities we serve to experience what we mean when we say that today we’re all about youth development, healthy living and social responsibility,” said Jan Pate, president and CEO.
As an added incentive to join the YMCA family now, the normal joiner’s fee for all levels of membership is waived through Jan. 31, she said.
The YMCA had planned to move to Forest Park, but those plans were canceled in 2009.
At that point, said board chairman Phil Gordon, it was decided to focus “on what it does best — serving its communities with a full schedule of programs built around healthy living for families, single adults, seniors and young people of all ages.”
The open house will begin at 9:45 a.m. with opportunities to take a beginner level fitness class; take part in youth and family gaming demonstrations in the recently remodeled Y-BOX; visit preschool classrooms; join a cycling or other fitness class; listen to a motivational speaker and participate in a drill during a Youth Basketball League break.
The afternoon will conclude with an open swim, beginning at 1:30 p.m.
A full schedule of demonstrations and classes is posted on the West Cook YMCA’s website: westcookymca.org.
New exercise equipment, remodeled wellness areas and renovated showers, toilets, steam rooms and sauna in the men’s and women’s spas will be ready for inspection. A new family changing area to serve seniors and parents of young children has been added to the swimming pool deck.
The project was partially funded by a bequest from the estate of the late James T. Kazda, of Berwyn, who lived in the West Cook YMCA’s single room occupancy section during the 1970s.
Members of the Kazda family, along with other donors to the West Cook YMCA, will be honored at a special recognition reception during the open house, said Pate.
“Social responsibility is also a major focus at the Y, and we’re proud of our collaboration with PADS, Hephzibah, Oak Leyden Township, Opportunity Knocks and other community partners,” said Jan Pate, president and CEO. “The West Cook YMCA is an important safety net to prevent homelessness through its Single Resident Occupancy housing facilities.”
In 1903, the YMCA opened on North Oak Park Avenue just east of Scoville Park in a building that is a condominium today. Like many other YMCAs, the focus was on athletics, adult education and bible study.
The present Marion Street building opened in 1953, where programs mushroomed and over the decades have evolved to meet the changing needs of the day. For example, Pate said, caring for young people was added in the 1970s and is now being expanded this month to a full-day preschool.