YMCA of Coastal Georgia Announces $1.6 Million Transformational Investment

Staff Report

Monday, June 27th, 2022

At its 167th annual meeting, the YMCA of Coastal Georgia is excited to announce a transformational investment into the health and well-being of its core constituent communities, beginning with Pooler’s West Chatham YMCA. This fall, work will begin to transform the one of the association’s most-trafficked branches into a modern wellness facility that will be better equipped to serve the growing population on the western side of Chatham County. 

The YMCA space will be reimagined and reshaped through a $1.6 million renovation that will provide more space for members, ease congestion, and update critical infrastructure like parking areas at one of the 10-branch association’s busiest locations. The current fitness center floor space will be opened to make room for a more member-centered experience. The addition of flexible spaces for specialized wellness activities and programs like LIVESTRONG at the YMCA and a blood pressure self-monitoring program coupled with the state-of-the-art EGYM smart strength system will help make a healthy lifestyle fun, fast and effective for the thousands of members served each year by the West Chatham Y.  

This investment represents the YMCA of Coastal Georgia’s first major capital project in Chatham County since 2005 and serves as the launching point for a long-term capital strategy to address community trends and needs across the association.  

“With this much-needed renovation, we’re looking ahead to the future and working to ensure that our facilities and services are ready to serve for the next 50 years,” says Joel Smoker, CEO. 

Since 1989, the YMCA of Coastal Georgia has expanded from two branches in one county to 10 in seven counties in response to the rapid growth of suburban communities in the region. The strength of the Chatham County core branches has anchored this expansion to meet community need, and with the announcement of this investment, the association is flexing to address the infrastructure needs of a growing membership population, as well as critical wellness concerns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

A recent study from the CDC cites that among children and youth, the rate of body mass index nearly doubled. And adults haven’t fared better: a 2021 Gallup poll tells us that 43% of Americans report having worse exercise habits, and 31% reported that financial hardship prevented them from seeking health care. 

“Health outcomes have suffered severely since the beginning of the pandemic, and that’s why this reinvestment in a critical branch like the West Chatham Y is so important right now,” Smoker continues. “This is where the Y comes in—we invest in proven programs to prevent and control chronic disease and improve health outcomes by supporting people with welcoming places for physical activity, opportunities for nutrition education, and a community for peer support. Our Ys aim to be the center of community—places that are accessible to all, where improved health outcomes are supported and celebrated. Crucially, we never turn anyone away from membership, programs or services due to an inability to pay.” 

The West Chatham YMCA was opened in 2001 and was one of only a few businesses on its stretch of Pooler Parkway at the time. In 2021 it was one of the busiest of the YMCA of Coastal Georgia’s 10 branch locations, serving 6,757 members and 1,638 program participants, who registered 121,839 visits over the course of the year. 

For more information, contact Summer Bozeman, director of communications and marketing, at summer.bozeman@ymcaofcoastalga.org or 912-438-0161.