Many reasons to take another look at Chilton County’s YMCA

Published 5:29 pm Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chilton County YMCA Director and CEO Mary Beth Wyatt is trying to change perceptions about the charity.

Wyatt, who has been on the job since October 2011, hasn’t found that county residents necessarily have a negative opinion of the Y–just that those opinions could be a little more positive.

The first thing those that visit the YMCA in the coming months might notice are some improvements to the building’s appearance.

The city of Clanton owns the property, and the city council has recently approved a number of projects: fixing a leak in the roof, providing a new Dumpster, installing new dividers in the restrooms, repairing vent fans in the gymnasium and donating materials to paint the entire inside of the building.

While painting, volunteers will include Bible verses on the walls, in accordance with the director’s plan to “put the C (which stands for “Christian”) back into the YMCA, Wyatt said.

“The YMCA board invited the council and mayor to the Y for a special thank you, for all of the renovations the city is doing to the Y,” Wyatt said. “The city council and mayor know how important the Y is to the people of our county. They have supported the Y in the past and have stepped up to the plate again to help make the largest impact possible.”

Wyatt is also helping to attract customers to the Y through new programs.

The YMCA will host former University of Alabama and National Football League greats Bobby Humphrey and Thomas Rayam for a sportsmanship program called “Win, Lose or Draw: Sportsmanship On and Off the Field” at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Clanton City Park youth football field. The event is free, and attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs.

“They’re going to talk about Christian sportsmanship on and off the field,” Wyatt said. “It’s just going to be a community-friendly event.”

In the event of inclement weather, the event would be moved into the YMCA’s gym, Wyatt said.

Local residents might be interested in some other Y offerings.

Registration is ongoing for an adult flag football league. Also, local baton instructors Karen Mitchell, Crystal Sabat and Mary Clyde Huff are holding baton classes at the Y. Registration for those classes will be held on Aug. 20 and 27.

Gymnastics registration is also open, as well as registration for youth basketball and the Y’s after-school program.

While the programs certainly help get people interested in the YMCA, Wyatt said she hopes those in the community remember that the organization is something even more important.

“We are a charity,” Wyatt said. “Sometimes that gets lost in the mix. Too often we get looked at as just a gym.”