SPRING HILL — The Hernando County Family YMCA just keeps generating good news and healthy activities for a growing populace.
Members, staffers and volunteers celebrated doing just that for 20 years on Saturday. They celebrated with a Hawaiian luau at what is still the only semipublic pool in the county, teaching, exercising and cooling off water enthusiasts in its junior Olympic-sized outdoor facility since the Y's inception.
Recognized at the event were some 75 20-year members, more than 300 volunteer coaches, referees, special events planners and membership workers along with board members and senior staffers led by executive director Lisa Sterling.
Poolside was appropriate.
"We have always had aquatics and aquatics are still going strong," said membership/marketing director Olivia Matles, who has been with the organization since its opening to the community on June 3, 1989, at 1300 Mariner Blvd.
Dr. James P. Gills of Tarpon Springs, who has funded various Y projects throughout the Suncoast, is credited as the primary founder of the local facility with the most generous of donations among others that poured in from businesses and individuals to establish a community facility whose focus is a healthy lifestyle.
Matles provided a timeline of growth and services.
• In 1990, the Y served 1,000 members among a county population of 31,117. This year, its programs cater to a membership of some 14,000 in a population of about 150,000.
• General memberships: $44 a month for individuals, $71 for families, which include seven-days-a-week unlimited use of facilities. Offered now are a choice of 96 water and land aerobic classes, two personal training sessions to get an individual started, unlimited stationary cycling classes, a Kid Zone babysitting facility while the elders work out, a teen center with computer lab, table tennis, active Wii gaming, plasma TVs and board games.
• Active older adults can try yoga, dancersize, line dancing, Zumba aerobics, Zumba toning, SilverSneakers cardio workouts, book club, bingo and chair exercise, all with instructors.
• In 2001, locker rooms were renovated. In 2003, the aerobics room was enlarged and supplied with a suspended spring floor, a delight to users who preferred not to stress knee and hip joints.
• In 2004, two outdoor playgrounds were added, one for preschool children and one for more rambunctious and energized school-age kids. Constructed at the same time was an outdoor fitness trail with various exercise stations. Many volunteers helped build the upgrades.
• A $2.2 million expansion in 2008 established an 8,000-square-foot wellness center, created the teen center, doubled the size of the Kids Zone, added a group exercise studio for classes in tae kwon do, Pilates, children's dancing and tumbling. It also expanded social spaces to accommodate member interaction, "to offer additional programming opportunities and the ability to better serve current members," Matles said.
• The Y also provides services away from its 20-acre site, such as after-school programs at 12 schools. "We're the largest provider of child care in Hernando County," Matles said. At the schools, as well as at the Mariner Boulevard property, the Y sponsors such youth sports as baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, T-ball, flag football and a junior referee training program.
Matles added that membership cost need not be a factor. Donors and sponsors contribute donations. "We have a motto," she said. "No one is turned away (because of) an inability to pay."
For information, call the Hernando County Family YMCA at 688-9622.
Beth Gray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.