''The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, but in what direction are we moving.''
This quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes applies very well to the decision our board of directors made in August to dissolve our affiliation with the YMCA of the USA and become an independent community recreation center. We firmly believe we are moving in the right direction. Our board and staff understand that progress imposes both new opportunities and new challenges. We are prepared to tackle the challenges and are excited about the opportunities and future of the Fort Dodge Community Recreation Center.
Some members have asked why the board made the decision to disaffiliate with the YMCA of the USA after 68 years of affiliation. Rest assured, this decision did not come easy; it followed nine months of discussion, deliberation and a great deal of thought by our board members about what is best for our organization, our members and our community. The decision to disaffiliate was not about any conflict in our mission; it was strictly about local control and our ability to respond to the needs of our members and our local community.
Following several meetings with staff from the YMCA of the USA, it became very apparent to our board that the national YMCA's governance policies did not align with our short-term and long-term goals and were in conflict with our ability to sustain current partnerships and develop new partnerships. This point of contention made it very difficult for us to sustain our membership and advance recreation and fitness in our community and region. In these difficult economic times, collaboration is critical to our ability to continue to serve as a viable community organization focused on recreation and the health, fitness and well-being of youths, families and adults. We presently have ongoing partnerships with Iowa Central Community College, the Fort Dodge Parks and Recreation Department, Trinity Regional Medical Center and the Fort Dodge public school system. These partnerships, and others, have helped us enhance programs and services and solidify our financial operations. At the end, the final decision was unanimous by our YMCA board and our YMCA Foundation board.
It is important for our members and our community to know that the local YMCA was not owned or managed by the YMCA of the USA, and never has been. We were only an affiliate of the national organization. Even though the Fort Dodge Community Recreation Center - FDCRC - is no longer affiliated with the YMCA of the USA, we want to make it very clear that we are the same organization. The only thing that has changed is our name. We remain an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and continue to be focused on adult, family and youth recreation, fitness and personal development.
Since inception, YMCAs have been faith-based organizations. The change in our name and our transition from the national YMCA organization will not change the values we stand for as a community organization that works with youths and families. The Fort Dodge Community Recreation Center will continue to advance the importance of faith in daily living and we will also incorporate the Six Pillars of Character as foundational values that we will advocate and support. The Six Pillars of Character, advanced by the national Character Counts organization include: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.
The exciting news is that our organization is financially strong, membership is increasing, programs and services are expanding and our partnership with Iowa Central Community College and others will remain the same. The Fort Dodge Community Recreation Center is in a great position to serve our community by providing adults, youths and families with value-based programs and services that will enhance recreation, fitness and personal well-being.
We have already begun to expand programs and services offered to our members and our community. We currently offer youth programs such as baseball, flag and tackle football, basketball, indoor soccer, martial arts, swim team and aquatic programs. We will also be adding exercise classes and activities for our youths and teens. Over the next six months, we will be exploring opportunities to start new youth recreation and fitness programs both after school and on the weekends in our effort to continue expanding youth participation in healthy and safe activities.
For families, something new we will be starting this winter is a Family Night. One night a week, we will focus on strengthening families by offering numerous activities in our pool/aquatics department, utilizing and expanding our family/youth game room and also providing activities in our gymnasium. During these difficult economic times, we want to provide families with inexpensive recreational opportunities through the use of our facilities and offering programs they can use and enjoy together as a family. The cost of dinner and movie as a family would be much more than the cost of using the FDCRC for a whole month. What a great value!
The Fort Dodge Community Recreation Center wants our center to be a safe and family friendly place. We have made numerous changes and invested in our facilities to provide for a safe and healthy environment. The FDCRC has an expanded and updated security system with state of the art security cameras throughout the facility. We have more properly trained building supervisors on staff and have supplied them with the appropriate equipment to assist then in providing for a safe and secure environment. In addition, we have invested in a new computer access security system for our members, which allows us to monitor who comes in and out of our facility at all times.
For adult members, we are currently investing in updating and providing more fitness equipment for our 48 different fitness classes. For members, all fitness classes are free and free child care is also available. Due to increased demand, we recently purchased three new spinning bikes to add to our existing 15 bikes, and we are currently in the process of purchasing 12 new cardio machines to improve are cardio/fitness area. We also offer our members access to a personal trainer at both FDCRC locations to assist them in getting started with an appropriate training program and to help them meet their personal training goals. Finally, we will continue to offer great adult programming from volleyball and basketball leagues to hosting dodge ball tournaments and other recreation and fitness events.
The transition we are making as the Fort Dodge Community Recreation Center is both positive and rewarding. We are very excited about what is ahead for our members and our community. Please stop in and visit us and take a tour at either one of our two Fort Dodge Community Recreation Center locations. We would enjoy the opportunity to serve you and your family. Just call the Fort Dodge Community Recreation Center at 573-7101, or stop in and see us. I think you will like our progress.
David Pearson is executive director of the Fort Dodge Community Recreation Center.