A community hub

YMCA of Bucks County’s Fairless Hills branch undergoing complete renovation through “For A Better Us” funding

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Bringing neighbors together: By early 2020, YMCA’s Fairless Hills branch is slated to be completely renovated with an expanded fitness center, community gathering area, and more. Source: YMCA of Bucks County

For nearly 85 years, the YMCA in Fairless Hills has been a community staple, offering programs for youth development, health and financial assistance. Thousands of locals depend on the 601 S. Oxford Valley Road branch daily, so it only makes sense for it to be a state-of-the-art facility. Still, the space hasn’t been touched in ages.

But the nonprofit organization is seeking to change that.

Last month, YMCA of Bucks County, which encompasses five locations in Fairless Hills, Warminster, Newtown, Doylestown and Quakertown, announced its “For A Better Us” campaign, which is aiming to raise $20 million for various initiatives across the county.

According to YMCA of Bucks County president and CEO Zane Moore, the campaign has a trifold purpose. Of the $20 million, $15 million will be allocated to two capital projects. In Fairless Hills, the facility will be reconfigured within its current footprint to give the building a new look and allow for an expanded fitness center and locker rooms, additional program space, a community gathering area, and more parking.

“I grew up in that location. It’s a great Y serving, I believe, close to 10,000 members,” Moore said. “But the financial assistance in that community is huge. We’re feeding thousands of kids a day in our hunger program. So that’s an example of a community that really needs that Y and we want to renovate it. It hasn’t been renovated in a very long time, and we want to make the Fairless Hills branch the community hub of that area, something that community can be proud of, and somewhere everyone comes from youth to family to seniors alike.”

Though plans are still being finalized, Moore predicted construction to be completed by early 2020. He also stressed the space will be fully up and running throughout the renovation process.

“We call that our seamless service. Our locations will not close,” he said. “We’ll relocate things internally, we’ll move things around and we’re going to make it fun.”

The second capital project is an 11,000-square-foot improvement in Doylestown, which will include an expanded fitness center, added program space and universal, private locker rooms, which will allow the Y to better meet the needs of its diverse populations.

As for the remaining $5 million, these funds will be dedicated over the next five years to YMCA of Bucks County’s vast array of community support programs, which Moore provided examples of. Annually, $2.1 million is granted to area families in need of financial assistance.

“The average income of our financial aid recipients in Lower Bucks County is $16,000 a year, and many of those people are looking for child care,” he said. “So our camps and our education centers offer the child care for them while they work all summer long.”

The organization also offers free membership for seventh-graders who are otherwise forced to return to an empty home. The YMCA provides a safe, stable environment where they can interact with peers and stay out of trouble on the street.

“That’s the time we realize kids are really looking for independence,” Moore said.

Additional programs are geared toward specific groups — veterans, cancer patients, teenage girls struggling with self-confidence issues, elderly adults who need to get active, and opioid addicts coming out of recovery.

“Any one of those programs is just about people reclaiming their health and wellness and being in a supportive environment and part of a community at the Y,” Moore said.

So far, YMCA of Bucks County has raised close to $13 million of its $20 million “For A Better Us” goal thanks to donors such as Penn Community Bank, which recently pledged $250,000.

“More people across Bucks County are using Y facilities and programs every year, which means that demand for Y programs and services is growing, too,” said Todd R. Hurley, Penn Community Bank chief relationship officer, who serves as chief volunteer officer of YMCA Bucks County’s Lower Bucks Region Advisory Board and as a member of the Y’s countywide association board. “Penn Community Bank is proud to support the ‘For A Better Us’ campaign that will allow the Y to help tens of thousands of Bucks County residents live more active, healthier lives.”

Moore expressed his gratitude over the support “For A Better Us” has received.

“Many donors are contributing to this because the Y, we’re community-owned, we’re a community service organization,” he said. “These Ys are built with donated money. Any way people are interested in getting involved in the campaign and helping us bring these new facilities to reality to better serve the community, then please give me a call.”

The Fairless Hills Branch of the YMCA of Bucks County is located at 601 S. Oxford Valley Road. For more information, visit ymcabucks.org or call 215–949–3400. ••

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com