Atchison, Kansas, approximately 45 minutes northwest of Kansas City, Missouri, is a rural community of 11,000 residents. Historically, Atchison County ranks as one of the unhealthiest in the State of Kansas, among a number of metrics such as obesity rate and substance abuse. The new “Live Well, Live Atchison” collaborative, sponsored by the Kansas Health Institute, is working to reverse these statistics and make Atchison among the healthiest communities in Kansas and improve residents’ quality of life.
The first step in taking the community from worst to first was a full-scale renovation of the community’s 102-year-old YMCA, which had not been updated in 34 years. After more than two years of fundraising, the YMCA had raised more than $6 million in pledged donations, but still fell short of what was needed to achieve the completescope of the project.
Enterprise Financial CDE stepped in to provide $10 million in NMTC financing to complete the renovation and expansion for the YMCA.
Today, more than 3,000 children, families and individuals are served by the Atchison Family YMCA annually. When completed in December, 2017, the YMCA will expand by 16,875 sq. ft., enabling it to double membership capacity. Additionally, the project has resulted in a renovated indoor swimming pool; a gym and wellness center, including an indoor walking track; an Adventure Center for children; a community room for meetings, celebrations, and various other activities; and a lobby and lounge area.
The expansion helps foster existing relationships with other likeminded community organizations, as well as with local schools and the Adult Learning Center and its Workforce Development Program. The expanded YMCA also house the case manager’s office for the local Big Brothers, Big Sisters affiliate.
In addition, the YMCA is finalizing a joint venture with the Atchison Hospital, which would include an onsite clinic, therapy pool, allowing the YMCA to serve as a site for pre- and post-op services, as well as cardiac rehabilitation services. For residents of this rural community, the YMCA represents the sole source of community development and family recreation. It is also a cornerstone in helping improve residents’ health and wellness.
The project also resulted in 45 construction jobs and 7 full-time employees in an area with high-unemployment.