Filling an 'overwhelming need': Hornell YMCA expands with new Dansville branch
New Dansville YMCA filling 'overwhelming need' with programs now underway
DANSVILLE — A community needs survey went out to Dansville area residents last fall to gauge interest in launching a local YMCA.
The results were striking.
“We received around 500 responses, and they were overwhelming in indicating a need for more things for community members to do, including stuff the YMCA can offer,” said Hornell Area Family YMCA CEO Kristoph Kocan. “That was everyone from youth to adults to seniors.”
With a clear demand for YMCA programming, Kocan and the Hornell team went to work establishing a YMCA branch in Dansville. Those efforts come to fruition over the last week as the new Dansville YMCA begins offering services out of 31 Clara Barton St.
“We’re very excited. We’ve had a lot of tremendous feedback from the community,” said Kocan. “We’re going to be offering as much as we can in the facilities the school has granted us and just keep growing from there.”
The Dansville YMCA is sharing 31 Clara Barton St. with Genesee Community College. The Hornell YMCA worked closely with the Dansville Central School District to secure extensive use of the building.
“We’re going to have access to their cafeteria/multipurpose room. We’re going to have access to the theater for a theater camp we’re running this summer,” explained Kocan. “On the third floor, four classrooms will be dedicated to music and arts. There’s two large classrooms with wood floors that will be like two aerobic studios.
“The school has been great to offer up space they weren’t using. We’re also doing a lot of work with the high school as far as pool access. We’re hoping to finalize our calendar sometime soon on what programs we can offer using the pool when it’s not being used otherwise.”
The YMCA is also exploring youth sports programs. A Walk with Ease program for seniors in the park just wrapped up last week. In addition to theater, music and arts classes, most of the early programs will be fitness classes for all ages.
The Dansville YMCA got a major boost from Congressman Chris Jacobs, who secured over $100,000 for startup equipment through a Community Project Grant. The Dansville facility will be transformed into a modern fitness space when the grant is put to use.
“Once that grant is received, our intent is to put a full gym facility in the multipurpose room. That would be more standard, what people expect when they see a YMCA,” said Kocan. “It would have treadmills and bikes and workout equipment. We’d be open certain hours and members could come in and work out. We were thrilled we were one of the 10 projects he picked. His office was great to work with and very supportive.
“It was our plan longterm to put that gym in and eventually put a full facility in, but getting that grant up front really expedited the timeline of when we can offer the services.”
Kocan and the Hornell YMCA got involved in Dansville after a February 2020 meeting with the school district, Dansville Mayor Peter Vogt and Dansville Chamber of Commerce. After the community voiced a need for YMCA services, Kocan began the process of securing a charter for Dansville, which falls in the Hornell YMCA’s area of coverage.
Some Hornell YMCA staff are set to run programs in Dansville, and the YMCA has been hiring for several positions with the expectation Dansville residents will be teaching a number of classes at the new facility. Membership rates and more information are available at hornellymca.com/DansvilleYMCA and the Dansville YMCA Facebook page.
“We’re getting a lot of phone calls and questions, which is great,” said Kocan. “We’re offering as much as we can and we’re very excited. We’ve had a lot of tremendous feedback. We’re planning an official community kickoff event sometime in July.”
Kocan said participation rates at the home base in Hornell are beginning to pick up as COVID-19 restrictions ease.
“It’s slowly returning,” he said. “The restrictions were lifted a few weeks ago. We’re seeing a steady but tentative return.”
Chris Potter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ChrisPotter413. To get unlimited access to the latest news, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.