Sometimes a project comes along that just clicks. Organizers make a convincing pitch to the community. Fundraising falls into place. Construction crews complete the project ahead of schedule.
Those projects are rare and require careful attention to community input and a capable leader. From an outsider’s perspective, the plan to build a new aquatic center at the Sheridan County YMCA is one of those projects.
In just about one year’s time, YMCA director Jay McGinnis and his crew have raised more than $15 million for a $16 million project. That’s quite a feat in a time when most organizations and individuals are holding their pocketbooks close to their chests.
The groundwork for the new aquatic center was put into place years ago. As studies were completed and public meetings were held, the consensus was clear: Sheridan needs a new pool for families and individuals to enjoy. Yes, there was and still is some disagreement on whether it should be an indoor or outdoor pool and where it should be located. But, it seems, the YMCA leadership has done its duty in convincing the community that its project fits the community need.
Beyond that, the YMCA team convinced those who don’t swim that they will benefit from the project, too. It isn’t just a new pool. It means repurposing the space where the pools are currently. It means expanded room for after-school programs and health programs at the YMCA. As McGinnis has said, few in the community won’t be able to take advantage of the new and renovated space. Few won’t feel the benefits.
As the Sheridan County YMCA goes into the final leg of its fundraising campaign, the reason for the project’s success is easy to see.
McGinnis is a willing, passionate and capable leader whose prowess will be missed when he retires. His team of volunteers, staff and board members at the YMCA are equally important to the cause.
Beyond the personnel, the YMCA’s willingness to engage the community and be forthcoming with its plans speaks volumes to why it is moving forward so quickly now. They put in the time and effort to build a foundation of support.
Finally, the project seems to have arrived in Sheridan at the right time. The need for a new pool has been shown through studies and master plans. Surveys have indicated the community’s desire to have a pool for years to come.
While not every project goes as well as the YMCA’s proposal to build a new aquatic center, the nonprofit’s is a good one to model. Public participation and transparency, strong leadership and good timing can go a long way. Just ask McGinnis.