New YMCA director plans to bring family focus back to organization, build strong child care structures

December 9, 2023 | 12:09 am

Updated December 8, 2023 | 10:59 pm

After 2 months as the Owensboro Family YMCA President/CEO, Tom Bontrager said the nonprofit’s future will be focused on emphasizing a very central part of the organization: family.

Bontrager said that oftentimes YMCAs have a disconnect in their goal of reaching families and end up finding themselves being used simply as a gym and pool facility.

“We just want to make it a family-friendly, fun place,” he said. “When a lot of people think of the Y they think of going to the gym. The gym is an avenue for us to reach the families to do other things.”

Bontrager said the plan to build back a connection with families focuses on utilizing the nearby child care center (located at 730 Harvard Drive) the YMCA purchased a few years ago.

When the YMCA was looking into a collaboration with the Senior Community Center — a project that has since been abandoned — the plan was to renovate the child care center and move all child care services there.

The YMCA is moving forward with those renovation plans, intending to have it open by the end of 2024. Bontrager said the property would need to be completely gutted and renovated to look like a modern child care center. The plans are not yet finalized, but the YMCA hopes to serve more than 150 children during after-school or summer camp sessions.

Bontrager said the move would free up more space in their main facility for other programming. It would also be more convenient for families needing child care, he said.

“We can double the number of kids we have in child care,” Bontrager said. “… It would also be an opportunity for families to drop their kids off in one location and not have to go to multiple.”

Bontrager said the YMCA still needs to raise funds for renovations, noting that community partnerships and involvement will be vital to the organization’s efforts and success.

He added that alongside the new initiatives to refine their child care services, the YMCA is also trying to provide more family-centered events, such as a free Parent’s Night Out monthly program where child care is extended.

“It’s all going to be about families,” Bontrager said of their focus moving forward. “It’s about how we can impact and make lives easier for the families of Owensboro.”

December 9, 2023 | 12:09 am

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