Newton YMCA: Past, Present, Future
The YMCA was originally founded in Newton in February 1874 with 7 members. The records indicate that the State Convention of the YMCA met in Newton in September 1875. The YMCA continued to exist in churches, gyms, banks and buildings around Newton until 1927. It was in 1927, six years after Mary Frances Skiff Memorial Hospital opened, a $40,000 debt hung over the hospital, largely due to unpaid donation from the original fund drive. F.L. Maytag, founder of the Maytag Company and supporter of the hospital, agreed to a personal pledge of $250,000 to build a YMCA, but only if Newton residents would retire the hospital debt. The Chamber of Commerce gathered to form a 30 member committee and raised $54,191 in a week to allow the Mary Frances Skiff Memorial Hospital to be debt-free and Newton got its Y!
The "New" Location
For many years, the downtown YMCA served Newton. In the 1970s a group organized to develop a new community center. Newton Community Center Inc. was formed to develop, raise funds and finally construct a community center for Newton which would host the YMCA and the Newton Community Theatre. The new facility opened its doors in 1976.
Now serving as the hub for Newton and Jasper County, it was quickly discovered more space was needed. In the 1986 an addition was built that housed an art wing and child care areas. Also added during the 1986 construction project were the "small gym," aerobics room, an indoor walking track, free-weights room, office space, and a third racquetball court.
ACES Teen Club
In 1994, the YMCA stepped up to the plate to help the community meet another need - teen programming. The YMCA took over management and programming for ACES Teen Club, which was located in the industrial park area on the north end of town. For more than a decade, the Teen Club offered a safe place for teenagers to meet, work on homework, make new friends, skateboard, roller skate and play games. Also popular at ACES were weekly dances and the annual MORP formal for 7th and 8th grade students.
Fitness Center, Game Room & Entry Remodel
To better meet the needs of health seekers the YMCA remodeled the fitness facility. The former game room was converted to an aerobics area featuring treadmills, elliptical machines, arc trainers, stair steppers, a NuStep, bikes and 7 flat screen TVs. The area was also converted to house the Y's Cybex Center, which used to be near the locker rooms.
The game room was relocated to the downstairs area for children and families to enjoy games, TV, crafts and more. The game room features a full-sized pool table, an air hockey table, ping pong table, Foosball table, checkers/chess tables, puzzles, board games, coloring books and more. The game room is supervised so children 5 and older can enjoy playing with friends while parents work out.
During the 2008 remodel the entry way also got an updated look adding a new check in area, re-configuring office space and allowing for a lounge area where people can enjoy comfortable coaches, read the local newspaper or their favorite magazine, enjoy complimentary coffee during the morning or watch the big game on a large flat screen.
YMCA Child Care
In 2000, the YMCA began managing the local day care center which had previously been operated by the school district. The YCC housed child care for infants 6 weeks old to before and after-school care for children as old as 12 years old, along with the grant-funded the Get Started preschool program. Thanks to a generous gift made by E.K. and Nancy Shaw former meeting space and art rooms were remodeled to a state-of-the-art child care center at the Y's campus. The remodeled day care center opened in May 2012.
Under One Roof
Due to declining enrollment of Teen Club memberships and daily attendance, the teen club was closed and the building sold in 2011. The former ACES now is home to Grace Church in Newton and teen programming takes place at the YMCA.
In a strategic move to provide the highest quality care to its clients, the YCC
relocated in spring of 2012, bringing the YMCA under one roof for the first time since the organization was housed in the downtown YMCA.
With all professional and part-time staff working together the YMCA has grown to serve more than 3,300 members throughout Jasper County, provide more than 150 children with child care, raise $50,000 annually to assist individuals through the Y's Partner With Youth financial assistance program and partner with dozens of other non-profits (BBBS, Hepzubah House, St. Nick's Christmas Club, Clearview Recovery Center, Newton Little League, United Way of Jasper County, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, 4-H Clubs and more).
The Y staff is constantly working to improve the YMCA for its patrons, have a great impact on its community, all while promoting youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.
In January 2013, the YMCA opened its new conference room -- "The Newton Room" -- and an additional dance studio/aerobics room. Also in January of 2013, the YMCA staff worked on a Cost Study and Program Analysis to learn ways to be better stewards to the community.
In June, we worked with community leaders who gathered to provide input on how the YMCA can meet the needs of the community. August 2013 was a remodel project funded by private donations to completely update the men's and women's locker rooms.
2015 The Gift
A Caring Gift from Mary and Brad Manatt
The Newton YMCA announced in December of 2015 the receipt of a Capital Endowment Gift of $5 million which would be distributed over a three years period from Brad and Mary Manatt. The gift was to be used for present and future capital need projects and for sustainability of the Newton YMCA.
“We have been blessed by this wonderful gift from Brad and Mary and will be forever grateful to them for their years of volunteerism and financial support,” said Newton YMCA CEO, Frank Buckley. “A gift of this size helps ensure Y experiences are enjoyed by future generations to come. A strong Capital Endowment is critical in providing a facility which can support the programs and services needed in our community.”
Over the following months a team of YMCA advocates and Y professional staff developed a long-term plans for how this endowment should be used to ensure the Y’s future within the community.
Buckley added, “It’s important to understand that continued financial support no matter how large or small for the annual campaign, memberships, and business sponsors are still needed to make sure that everyone in our community desiring to participate in the Y may do so today and tomorrow.”
“We’re pleased to be able to give this level of support to one of Newton’s great assets. The Newton YMCA has served as a cornerstone for years and we want for youth in future generations to have a Y experience,” Brad Manatt stated. “It’s played a significant role in both Mary and my life along with programs that meet the needs of our kids.”
2016 Facility Ownership & Renovations
In January 2016, the Trustees of Newton Community Center, Inc. voted to dissolve and forward ownership of the facility over to the Newton YMCA. In addition to ownership, Newton Community Center, Inc. transferred their existing endowment fund over to the Newton YMCA Capital Endowment Fund. The Newton Community Theatre would continue to lease their portion of the building from the Newton YMCA, who now oversees the estimated $12 million facility.
In late 2016 construction began on the renovation of the lobby restrooms, family locker rooms, Aquatics Director’s office and storage room, and the reconfiguration of a racquetball court into two fitness levels. The upstairs lobby restrooms were redesigned and given a fresh contemporary look. Both the men's and ladies restrooms were enlarged and displayed new floor and wall tiling, partitions, fixtures, lighting and other accommodations. In doing this, the hallway leading back to the elevator was widened to five feet, allowing easy handicap accessibility to the lower level.
The lower level family locker rooms also were given a complete makeover which resulted in easier accessibility and convenience for family usage. Three family locker rooms were constructed, each providing personal access to a shower, sink, and toilet. There are added amenities such as changing table and ample seating in each room. The look of these family locker rooms has a similar appearance to the upstairs lobby restrooms creating a comfortable environment.
Yet another project completed was the conversion of the west racquetball court into two tiers; the upper area providing additional space for workouts and easy access to the track and free weight room. The lower area became a second fitness/wellness room for activities such as yoga, kick boxing, cycling, and other instructor based classes.
2017 Rural Iowa Infrastructure Grant Received
The Newton YMCA was the recipient of a $90,000 grant to support the renovation of its family locker rooms. Funding for the program was made possible through an appropriation by the Iowa Legislature from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund.
The scope of the project included the enlargement of three individual locker rooms which are compliant for handicap accessibility (ADA) as well as private amenities – shower, toilet, sink, mirrors, bench and changing station. Each room has a contemporary design with wall and floor tiling, LED lighting and vibrant paint colors.
“The funding from the State of Iowa is yet another blessing received by our YMCA”, said CEO Frank Buckley. “These renovated family locker rooms will allow families and those in need of handicap accessibility the opportunity to utilize our facility to its fullest potential. Having all the amenities within a single room hopefully encourages everyone within the community to take advantage of our programs and services.”
Another huge project in early 2017 was the replacement and addition of the pool’s filtering and pumping equipment. Most of the replacement equipment was original back in 1976, while other was replaced in 1992. One of the added pieces of equipment was a UV Filter which significantly eliminates the level of chlorine needed. One of the added pieces of equipment was a UV Filter which significantly eliminates the level of chlorine needed. This piece of equipment was $54,000 alone. The total project cost came in at $294,000.
Executive Director (2001-2014)