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YMCA Gets Facelift

By: Paige Lambrecht
By: Paige Lambrecht

A lot of work is going on at the South Wood County YMCA right now, and it's mostly thanks to the John Alexander Foundation. The foundation gave the "Y" a $1 million lead gift, which is what's made all the recent renovation possible.

The "Y" now has an upgraded fitness and wellness center and a new kids' adventure center, but this isn't the first time the foundation or John Alexander himself has helped out the Y.

In fact, nearly 50 years ago, Alexander helped build the Y and the building still bears his name. Since then, his foundation has given millions of dollars to organizations in the Wisconsin Rapids area.

Leslie Arendt is Alexander's granddaughter and a member of the foundation. She says, "It's just continued to be very supportive of the community and very supportive of the Y. It was one of the main missions my grandfather had in mind.”

But lately the Y has begun to show its age. The board of directors decided something needed to be done and they approached the foundation.

Arendt says they were happy to donate the money.

"It was in need of upgrades and new equipment and just a real face life, so we're just ecstatic about what's happened here in the last year or so."

More renovations are underway. While the Alexander Foundation's gift covered almost half of the project's cost, the Y still had to come up with more than $1 million.

Through the work of volunteers and business leaders, "Y" executive director Bryan Bailey says they've almost reached their goal.

"We've had outstanding support from the community at a time when it's been tough to raise money because of the economic climate, but we've seen people really step up to the plate.”

And now thanks to a generous gift and a supportive community, the Y's vision is becoming a reality.


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