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Community volunteers work to improve YMCA on special service day

The Springfield Family YMCA hosted its first Martin Luther King Jr. Service Day on Monday to help make improvements to its facility with the help of community volunteers.

Chief Executive Officer Paul Weber estimated 20 to 50 people attended the service day, including several local businesses such as Huntington Bank.

“A lot of people have the day off,” Weber said. “Instead of them staying home, we want to bring them in and put them to work, maybe doing one to three hours of volunteer work to help us out.”

Volunteer tasks included painting, cleaning, organizing historical documents and reorganizing a bulletin board.

“They don’t need a lot of physical strength or ability,” Weber said. “They just want to help out.”

Weber said the day of service on MLK Day is common at YMCA facilities across the nation, so he decided to hold one in Springfield.

“It’s a way to honor Dr. King and his legacy,” Weber said.

These improvements to the YMCA building are part of ongoing efforts to bolster the facility located at 300 S. Limestone St. This year marks the 160th anniversary of this YMCA facility, making it among the oldest YMCAs in the United States.

The YMCA held a four-day “Extreme Makeover” event last November, which was pushed back after a pipe burst that resulted in flooding.

As part of that event, an old weight room converted into a new childcare area, designed for both toddlers and school-age children. The room has been open for two weeks and is used by approximately 30 to 40 children per night, Weber said.

“One of our goals was to make the YMCA a bit more family-friendly,” Weber said.

Weber said the YMCA will continue to remodel throughout the year, taking it “one bite” at a time with volunteer help. Another “Extreme Makeover” day is planned for the spring and will focus on outside play areas.

Weber is planning to continue the MLK Jr. service day in the future.

“Next year, we want to keep getting bigger and bigger and maybe combine with a few other non-profits,” Weber said. “We really want to celebrate King’s legacy by having volunteerism on a day like today.”

For more information on how to volunteer, please call 937-323-3781.

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