YWCA begins $1 million in renovations

YWCA begins  million in renovations

CLINTON — A “wall-breaking” ceremony attended by Grow Clinton, Estes Construction and Bray Architects at YWCA Clinton last week signified the beginning of renovations to the facility’s Children’s Center.

“It’s an exciting time at YWCA Clinton,” Executive Director Shannon Sander-Welzien said. “We are undergoing over $1 million of renovations over the next six months.”

The City of Clinton received a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority last year to assist YWCA Clinton with funding for upgrades throughout the facility. The grant comes from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, funding projects that reduce the spread of COVID-19 infection.

With this and additional funding provided by the AE Pearson Foundation, a private donor, and other matching funding sources, Sander-Welzien says they’ll be updating YWCA Clinton’s HVAC system, including adding an air purification system called iWave, putting in new multi-purpose room flooring, fitness center flooring, locker room flooring, new lockers, and door access systems, as well as removing carpet and restoring hardwood flooring in the Historic Building.

Funding from the CDBG-CV grant, the Clinton County Development Association, the Timken Foundation, a Strengthening Communities grant program administered by the Iowa Arts Council, and that from private donors will allow for a new ADA-accessible entrance to be added on the southwest side of the facility. These contributions will also be put toward updating the HVAC system, adding new flooring, and updating the floor plan to increase childcare slots.

The commercial kitchen will be updated with all new surfaces and appliances, along with adding a fire suppression hood. This portion of the project was provided funding by the CCDA, Grow Clinton, and private donors.

Funded as well by the CCDA and the Union Pacific Foundation, a new liner for the indoor pool and glass doors will be added.

All of these projects are planned to be completed by June.

“We will have several room closures throughout the next six months,” Sander-Welzien said Monday. “The pool and locker rooms will be closed for a three- to four-week period in the spring. We’ve kept our childcare enrollment low to allow for childcare renovations. We hope interruptions will be minimal and appreciate everyone’s understanding as we are under construction. It’s an exciting time and the minimal interruptions will be worth some minor inconveniences.”

A not-for-profit organization, the YWCA was founded in 1915 by a group of women who met as a Bible study group and began at a facility located at 136 ½ Fifth Ave. South. It consisted of a reading room, a cafeteria, and a gym for volleyball, basketball, gymnastics and ballet.

It has since then continued to evolve, both in physical changes to its facilities and the programs and services offered, to meet the needs of the community.

Housing for women began to be provided at the home on Seventh Avenue South donated by the Lafayette Lamb family. Then, in 1943, to respond to the need for childcare during World War II by women who were beginning to work outside of the home, the YWCA opened one of the community’s first childcare centers.

In the early 1970s, it adapted to national civil rights movements by changing emphasis from a crafts and program-oriented organization to one concerning social issues. It was during that time that the realization of the need for more fitness and health opportunities in the community resulted in the building of the gym and pool opened in April 1977.

The last major renovation YWCA Clinton underwent occurred in 2002 when it expanded to again respond to an increasing need and interest for health and wellness.

Today, Sander-Welzien says, YWCA Clinton is proud to be Clinton County’s largest childcare provider and the longest-standing extended care provider in the county. The extended care program allows them to serve families working non-traditional schedules and helps to support the health of manufacturing industries of Clinton.

The commercial kitchen provides over 300 meals each day for the Downtown and Lyons childcare campuses, dinner for the Extended Care program, and snacks for after-school youth programs, as well as being available to the community. Sander-Welzien says the upcoming renovations will allow them to offer the community a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen to support cooking and nutrition classes in addition to helping the childcare staff more efficiently prepare nutritious meals for the children in their care.

Additionally, YWCA offers the only indoor swimming pool available in Clinton and the surrounding area. On average, it serves 527 members of the community every week, and provides 630 swim lessons to both children and adults each year. Heated to meet Arthritis Foundation’s guidelines, Sander-Welzien says the pool helps community members of all ages stay safe, healthy, and connected.

“All of the updates have been on our improvements list for many years,” she said. “Many partners came together to make all of these projects possible. So many people of various backgrounds and needs will benefit from the work we are doing here today. So many came together to make it possible. It truly was a community-wide effort. We are grateful to all who played a part in making this come to fruition.”