CLARKSBURG — After years of mismanagement and financial struggles, interim president and CEO Hal Green is working to revitalize the Harrison County YMCA.
Green, who volunteered to lead the local nonprofit about six months ago, said he has been working to create programs and initiatives to help the facility generate revenue and become self-sustaining.
“I’ve been challenged to find ways for the Y to become financially sound,” he said. “And we’re well on the way. We’re a nonprofit, but at the same time, you still have to have revenues to keep the doors open because you do have expenses.”
For throwing his efforts and passion into the Harrison County YMCA, NCWV Media has chosen to recognize Green with the 2018 Community Service of the Year award.
The YMCA is a community staple, meant to enrich the lives of residents, Green said.
“The Y should be a broad-based community organization,” he said.
“Part of the Y’s mission is serving those who are less fortunate and making things like a swimming pool and learning how to swim available to kids who might not otherwise have the ability.”
One potential revenue stream is the newest addition to the facility — a pair of rooms that will be used for meditation and administering massages, Green said.
The new rooms have been under construction for about 10 weeks and are expected to be open around the beginning of February, Green said.
“There is one 16-foot by 20-foot room for couples massages and meditation,” he said. “And there is a room that is 16-foot by 12-foot for singles massages and a real nice lobby. We’re trying to create an experience for when people do come in and get massages where they can chill out before in the lobby area. It’s a quiet space.”
The facility plans to accept insurance from PEIA to cover massages, Green said.
Offering massages is the YMCA’s contribution to combating the area’s ongoing opioid crisis, Green said.
“Effective July 1, 2018, the state mandated that doctors can’t prescribe pain pills without (the patient) having first done some kind of alternative therapy,” he said. “So what we’re hoping, with the opioid crisis, is that we will see a lot of people being prescribed massages. I’m pretty confident in that.”
Benton Walker, who serves as the YMCA’s sports and wellness director, said the addition of massage and meditation will broaden the facility’s offerings.
“When people think of the YMCA, they think of it as a ‘gym and swim,’” he said. “But it’s much more than that with all the different programs that we offer. This will be another service for our members.”
One of the facility’s fastest growing community programs is its School Aged Child Care program, which is for children ages 6 to 12, Green said.
The program provides activities for children five days a week and during school holidays and weather-related closings, Green said.
“During the holidays, kids who are in the after-school program are coming to the Y during the week,” he said. “These kids come here every day that there isn’t school or if there’s a snow day. They get to swim and get do a lot of crafts and other learning activities. It’s a really good experience for a lot of those kids.”
The Harrison County YMCA has been part of the local community for more than 30 years, but has not been properly maintained over the years, Green said.
“Thirty-five years ago, they built this great new building, but it was put on autopilot,” he said. “The management team here started trying to find ways to make ends meet. Part of what they did was cut back on basic maintenance. The other thing they did was cut back on staffing. It was kind of cumulative over 20 or 25 years, and it just gradually slipped.”
Shortly after taking over, he formulated a plan to right the facility’s most glaring problems, Green said.
“I said, ‘We’re just not doing the basics; we’ve forgotten the fundamentals,’” he said. “So the first thing that I made a commitment to was to look at the building, look at the programing and look at the staffing. I told the management that we don’t have enough staff to provide the kinds of programming we’d like to offer. So we’re doing that. We’re in the process of increasing the number of people and having better coverage with our staff.”
The results of Green’s efforts are evident throughout the facility, Walker said.
“We’ve been working on making aesthetic repairs and making improvements,” he said. “It’s helping to reintegrate the Y into the community.”
Green said he has made it his personal mission to do all he can to ensure the residents of Harrison County will be able to continue utilizing their local YMCA for generations to come.
“I made a commitment myself that whatever we found, we would address it,” he said. “But we also made a commitment that we wouldn’t go to the community and ask for money. One of the things that we will need in the long run is to develop community support. We’re going to show the community first that we are a valuable community organization.”