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Hoerner Y Completes First Phase of Renovations

Rich Egger
Hoerner YMCA CEO Mark Smidt next to the capital campaign donor board. "It's the people and the donors of the Keokuk area that make this thing go. It doesn't happen without them," Smidt said.

The Hoerner YMCA in Keokuk is celebrating newly completed renovations to its building, which dates back to 1975.

CEO Mark Smidt believes the building was a great facility when it opened, but few improvements were made through the years. He said now it’s being brought it up to date.

“It’s a great building and it’s better now with the renovations.” He said they took two unused racquetball courts and converted them into three rooms on the first floor: a classroom, a multi-purpose room that doubles as a teen center, and a storage space. They also added a large group exercise room upstairs.

Smidt is especially proud of the teen center. He said the Hoerner Y is located in an ideal part of town for helping kids because it is right across the street from the middle and high schools.

“I really get jazzed about our teen center. (It) will be used every day from 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.,” Smidt said.

“Every day we allow teenagers to come in after school. They don’t have to have a membership. They don’t have to have anything.”

He said staff members supervise the teens and the Y provides a variety of organized activities, such as sports in the gym, photography classes, and introductory guitar lessons.  He said on a good day up to 80 kids use the teen center.

He said in the past the Y turned away teenagers if they didn’t have a membership, and many could not afford even a day pass.  He said the Y’s leadership team decided it would be better to give them a safe place to hang out after school.

“Those are kids that didn’t have someplace else to go before we had that teen center.”

Fundraising Campaign

Smidt said the Y, which is a nonprofit charitable organization, conducted a capital campaign to pay for the renovations. He said Roquette gave them $500,000 and the Y has another $350,000 in donations either collected or pledged.

“It’s the people and the donors of the Keokuk area that make this thing go. It doesn’t happen without them,” Smidt said.

The first phase of renovations cost $400,000. Smidt said the next phase will include renovations of the locker rooms and showers. He hopes to raise another $200,000 to put toward that project.

To help achieve that goal, Smidt plans to run a 100-mile race in Oregon next month and is collecting pledges for completing it.

“We have one anonymous donor – this is like the NPR fundraising drive – who will match up to $10,000 in donations. So we could get $10,000 in donations and another $10,000 from that donor for me completing my 100 mile run,” he said, adding, “I’ve been working my little tail off” to train for the run. “I’m committed to getting that run done.”

Pledges can be made by calling the Y or by contacting the organization through its Facebook page

He hoped the next phase of renovations can begin in the next 12-18 months.

Solar Installation

Smidt said the Y is in the process of purchasing two acres of land near its football and soccer fields. He said a company will use the site to put up a solar array large enough to supply the Y’s electric needs.

He said that could save the organization $15,000 a year – and he called that a conservative estimate.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.