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The new YMCA will be “a transformative, powerful, positive force for Caroline and for the citizens of Caroline,” U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., said at the facility’s grand opening ceremony Friday afternoon.
Hundreds of people gathered in the gymnasium to celebrate the development of Caroline’s first and only YMCA. Warner, who is running for re-election, was the featured guest speaker, and Y leaders and local county supervisors also delivered remarks and then cut the ceremonial ribbon outside.
Armand “Buddy” Fredette, president of the Rappahannock Area YMCA’s volunteer board, said, “This is a wonderful day, both for the Rappahannock Area YMCA and for Caroline County. This brings to a wonderful conclusion this beautiful facility that we’re sure will be well used by citizens of Caroline County.
“This was always part of a vision that we had for years in our long-range plan to include Caroline County in helping us to establish this wellness facility for the citizens.”
Barney Reiley, CEO of the Rappahannock Area YMCA, commended the efforts of numerous people and organizations that helped bring about the Caroline Family YMCA, and he lauded the persistence of one county supervisor in particular—Madison District Supervisor Wayne Acors.
“His due diligence was second to none,” Reiley said. “We would not be here today if it wasn’t for Wayne Acors.”
Acors said, “It has been a long 10 years in the making, but today we stand in this beautiful facility, which has the latest and most current state-of-the-art equipment. It did not happen by chance. It took a lot of hard work from a lot of people.”
Acors listed several programs the Y will bring to Caroline, including before- and after-school programs, summer camps for youth, and aquatic therapy, which is available in only one other therapeutic pool in the Rappahannock system.
The Y will also allow Caroline High School to have a swim team, and the Y’s pool will be its home base.
Acors said the Y will be “a place where citizens of the county can come together and get to know each other and like each other better, whether they be young or old.”
Approximately 500 people had already joined the Caroline Y, Acors said, and that includes 35 memberships through its “Open Doors” financial assistance program.
“As they have said continuously to me and to others, no one will be turned away from this facility that wants to be a member,” Acors said.
He concluded, “I look forward to seeing many of you here soon, as I’m going to make use of this facility in an effort to lose weight and become a healthier person.”
Port Royal Supervisor Calvin Taylor commented, “I don’t care where you live in Caroline County—if you can’t walk into this building and be proud, then you got a real problem, because this is one of the greatest facilities.”
Taylor added, “This Y will benefit every citizen in Caroline County. Businesses will locate here because of the Y. They will pay into our finance system that will make our education system better. Our law enforcement will benefit from the funds that will be paid through businesses and other facilities who will locate here.”
“This is a real accomplishment. This is going to be a tremendous, tremendous asset to this community,” Warner said.
Warner spoke of the spirit of the Y. “It is about how we come together as a community, how we come together in a facility that advances health and wellness, yes, but also has a firm foundation in faith,” the former Virginia governor said.
“It’s about a community coming together that says we want to make sure that everyone in our community—and I’m particularly appreciative of the pricing policy—regardless of their means, if they want to be a member of the Y, we’re going to find a way for them to be a member, to take advantage of this incredible facility.”
Warner continued, “What is really the greatest sense of what makes America still so special even in these challenging economic times is much more about what’s happening right here in Caroline County in terms of the community coming together with a vision of how we’re going to help—and help everyone in our community—than quite honestly what passes for political debate in the halls of Congress nine times out of 10.”
He added, “There’s nothing that can’t be achieved if people come together with that sense of community, with that sense of can-do spirit.”
Keith Marine, executive director of the Caroline Family YMCA, asked, “Why the Y? Why for this community? So that a young child that either lives in Lake Caroline or Lake Land ‘Or or nearby the water learns how to swim. If we save one life, that’s why the Y.”
He said teenagers can hang out at the Y on weekends playing basketball or air hockey instead of driving up and down Interstate 95 looking for entertainment, and each local elementary school would “have a safe and nurturing before and after school care.”
Plus, the therapy pool will allow individuals with disabilities to get the exercise they need “for a healthy living,” without having “to travel an hour north or an hour south because it’s right here in Caroline County,” Marine said.
The 42,000 square-foot facility is located at 17422 Library Boulevard in the Ladysmith area of Caroline County. It can be reached at 804-448-9622.