Charlie Glass, Kingsport YMCA CEO. Photo by Ned Jilton II
A substantial gift is being given to the Kingsport YMCA so the non-profit organization can expand its facilities after it saw rapid growth over the last year.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation is donating $1.6 million to the Y. The money will cover more than half of the funding needed for the next phase of expansion.
"We are excited to help the Greater Kingsport Family YMCA with this gift, which is consistent with our mission of fostering healthy communities in the state," said BlueCross President and CEO Bill Gracey. "The growth of the YMCA demonstrates how real the need is for a facility like this, which is dedicated to physical wellness. Our hope is that our contribution can help the people of the Kingsport area keep their momentum toward better health."
The proposed expansion would add a multi-purpose room with a kitchen, a full gymnasium with a suspended walking track and a fourth group exercise studio. The other three exercise studios are well past capacity with 10,000 people participating over the last month.
The grant is specifically for expansion after the YMCA saw a 450 percent growth over the last year. The expansion has been planned since the plans for the facility were first drawn up. The full expansion taking place is contingent on the rest of the money being raised.
"Because of the growth over the last year, we need to expand," said Abigail Weaver, marketing and communication director for the YMCA. "We made a grant proposal to kick start the campaign. The more space we have, the more people we can serve."
Weaver said the Y would need to raise the remaining costs, which is around $900,000. She said the organization has key donors they can go back to that have expressed interest in seeing the expansion completed. Weaver said the plan is to act immediately to secure the rest of the money and not wait around for a year to raise it because the need is so severe.
For many who work in the Kingsport YMCA, the gift is a sign of confidence in the work that is taking place there.
"We are absolutely thrilled and incredibly grateful for the confidence of BlueCross BlueShield in us to further impact the health of our community," stated Charlie Glass, Kingsport YMCA CEO in a press release. "Our need for additional space to accommodate more individuals and families is overwhelming. This gift will enable us to act quickly and respond to the demand of our members."