MONROE — The campaign to bring a YMCA to Walton County is getting ready to truly kick off after more than a decade of preparation for this moment.
The Walton County YMCA Campaign Leadership Team met Wednesday to review its plans to bring the well-known recreation center and community organization to the area.
Gary Hobbs, one of the primary movers of the campaign so far, kicked off the meeting by speaking to the group, which included mayors, school superintendents, business leaders, community dignitaries and others.
“You represent every facet of Walton County,” Hobbs, the retired county schools superintendent, said. “I feel sure we can make a success for the families of Walton County.”
The campaign first began in 2007, as a group of interested citizens floated the idea of bringing a YMCA to the area to fill a notable gap in community offerings — particularly, the lack of any public swimming pool in the entire county.
“We are 95,000 strong in Walton County and we don’t have a swimming pool,” Hobbs said.
The campaign has waxed and waned over the years, but now the group think it’s ready to get started, as officer nominations will result in a leadership team being appointed at next month’s meeting to begin fundraising.
Steve Dorough, president and CEO of First Community Development, spoke on his group’s work to help guide that fundraising campaign for the county.
“We are about to kick off a fundraising campaign with a $10 million goal,” Dorough said. “We cannot do this without you.”
With a strategic five-year plan in place and a fundraising team in assembly, Lee Rowell, one of the first people to spearhead the YMCA project locally, said he’s confident a YMCA can come into being here in Walton County.
“This has been a long process,” Rowell said. “We think it will be great for the community and have a great impact on the area.”
The proposed YMCA plans include a 10-lane indoor pool, gymnasium, workout space, child care nursery and more, giving Walton County a community location that can reach the greatest number of people lacking access to such amenities in the area.
But to make it happen, Hobbs said, everyone would have to work together and raise the funds needed to bring the Y into existence.
“It’s important we have cheerleaders out there who know the importance of the YMCA,” Hobbs said. “That means you.”