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Nonprofit Fitness Facility Saved by Community Volunteers

A former YMCA in western New York that was forced to close in March is continuing to offer fitness programming after being absorbed by another local nonprofit agency.

The Chemung County YMCA, Elmira, NY, announced at the beginning of the year that it was unable to continue operating due to financial reasons. At the time of closure, the Y’s rent was about $8,000 in arrears, which it had agreed to repay by surrendering its fitness equipment to the county, according to several media outlets.

News of the facility’s closure spurred a flurry of activity from local residents. About 2,000 concerned citizens signed a petition asking county officials to save the Y, and small grassroots groups of local seniors and students at Mansfield University in nearby Mansfield, PA, worked to find a solution that would keep the facility operating and solvent.

The citizens’ efforts paid off. This month, the former Y was adopted by The Senior Center Inc., which will lease the fitness facility from the county and operate it as an annex for the next 12 months. A number of the former Y’s patrons and members made donations and took on annual memberships to provide an influx of cash. Another supporter paid off the facility’s $5,000 equipment bill.

A volunteer committee made up of Senior Center and former Y members has devised a budget and new fee structure for members and guests to help the facility to break even. Other volunteer groups from the community are helping with fundraising efforts, participating in refurbishment projects and exploring other ways to increase revenues, including updated programming options.

The new Chemung County Family Fitness Center will hold a grand-opening celebration for the public on May 21.

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