Last Thursday, 47 community members attended the Cassville Chamber of Commerce's quarterly luncheon at the Barry County Museum. The event featured the Cassville YMCA.
Dove Haney, Cassville YMCA facility manager, gave a brief history of the YMCA. The organization was established in London in 1844, and the Ozarks Regional YMCA, which is the parent organization for the local YMCA, began in 1889.
"I believe it was one of the first in America," said Haney.
In 2005, a group of Cassville community members approached the Ozarks Regional YMCA in hopes of locating a facility in Cassville. Upon initial review, the group was told that "Cassville was not big enough to support a YMCA."
Later, Kati Rose, Cassville city administrator, approached the regional organization again to request assistance with the administration of Cassville's recreational programs.
"At that time, the city was losing quite a bit of money on those programs," said Haney.
The YMCA agreed to administer Cassville's gymnastics, soccer and flag football programs and operate the Cassville Aquatic Center.
"In the fall of 2006, it was decided that the gymnastics center was being underutilized," said Haney. "There were between 80 and 100 girls enrolled in the gymnastics program, but they only used the facility from 4 to 7 p.m. on weekdays and a couple of hours on Saturday."
Founding members of the Cassville YMCA Board raised $100,000, which was used to purchase cardio and weight-lifting equipment for the Cassville Gymnastics Center, which is now the Cassville YMCA.
Prior to 2007, the local YMCA shared a manager with the Monett facility. In 2007, the first facility manager was hired for the Cassville location. In 2010, Bob Crouthamel was added as the local sports and youth director.
Currently, the Cassville YMCA has 1,476 members and employs two full-time, 19 part-time and 32 seasonal staff members. Seasonal staff include league referees and lifeguards.
"Our main goal is to fill the needs and help where we can to strengthen and support the community," said Haney. "Because of the growth the Cassville YMCA has experienced, we were able to reduce the contract payment support from the city by $18,000 this year."
The YMCA focuses on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.
Crouthamel also spoke during the luncheon. He offered information on the youth soccer program, which has had as many as 150 participants, and the youth flag football program.
"Both of the programs are growing," said Crouthamel.
This year, local teams will begin competing against teams from the Springfield area.
"We have changed our fields around too," said Crouthamel. "The city was a great help with that. They came out and pulled the pins and helped measure and move. Now we have the little kids closer to the bathrooms."
Concessions will be offered during the local soccer and flag football games this year. Cassville Girls Softball League participants will be operating the concession stand to raise funds for their program.
"Scott Fitzpatrick and Maricorps donated benches for our players to sit on during practices and games," said Crouthamel. "In the future, we hope to place bleachers out there too for our families and fans.
"As you drive in, you will also notice the posts have been painted a bright yellow," said Crouthamel. "I am so excited about what we are doing over there and how beautiful everything is looking."
Crouthamel offered information on the cheer and tumbling program, which has around 60 participants, the new martial arts program and Family Fun Nights.
The fun nights are held each Friday from November through March and attract between 60 and 100 children. The events offer organized games, prizes and food.
"This year, there was a need at the school," said Crouthamel. "We have kids who come to the Y after school. They were getting on the buses at the school and really loading down the buses. We had 20 to 30 kids getting off at the Y."
Now, the YMCA offers transportation from the school to the Y facility on Highway 248 on Mondays and Wednesdays.
"Our summer day camp is in its third year," said Crouthamel. "I am ready to do it now. I love summer day camp."
Children visit the Cassville Aquatic Center on Monday, Wednesday and Friday throughout the summer. On other days they take part in activities at the YMCA and attend field trips to a variety of locations. This year, some of the field trips will include visits to Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas, Promised Land Zoo, Camp Wakonda and a Naturals Baseball game.
"When they come to the Y, I want them to have the best time that they have ever had," said Crouthamel. "I want them to be kids. I want them to be goofy."
The Cassville YMCA offers 14 weight machines, free weights, cardio equipment, free childcare services and a variety of classes, including aerobics, zumba, yoga and pilates and Silver Sneakers. The organization also offers swimming lessons and aquatic classes at the Cassville Aquatic Center.
Healthy Lifestyles visits are offered to members. Counselors work with members to determine their needs and goals, provide an overview of the equipment and classes available and provide follow-up assistance.
The local Y also offers adult flag football and softball programs. An ultimate frisbee program will likely be added in the near future.
Free memberships are available to foster families and families of those deployed in the military. Silver Sneakers classes are offered to local seniors at no cost.
The Cassville YMCA is currently conducting its annual Strong Kids Campaign. Strong Kids provides financial aid scholarships to children. Last year, the campaign raised $11,044, and the Cassville YMCA provided $31,144 and assisted over 200 families in financial aid in 2011.
For more information on the Cassville YMCA or any of the local programs or to donate to the Strong Kids Campaign, call Haney at 846-1535.