GENEVA — In the fall of 2019, the staff at the Geneva Family YMCA hosted a kickoff event for a capital fundraising campaign and planned $4 million expansion and renovation project.
Several months later, Covid-19 disrupted that plan.
“Covid did get in the way. We had to shut down our facility due to the governor’s order for six months, then could only open at 33% capacity after that,” Mary Bakogiannis, the Y’s executive director, said recently. “It was such an unknown time, so we put off fundraising until the end of 2021.”
Now, thanks largely to the continued generosity of longtime community benefactors Dave and Brenda Rickey, groundbreaking at the William Street facility that dates back to 1971 is scheduled for Nov. 5. Due to higher construction costs, the price tag is approximately $5 million, and fundraising is ongoing.
“We met with the Rickeys last fall. They are just such wonderful, philanthropic, amazing people,” Bakogiannis said. “They came back and said, ‘We will give another $500,000,’ so their total gift is $2.5 million.”
Dave Rickey, a Geneva native and DeSales High School graduate, retired in 2005 as president and CEO of California-based Applied Micro Circuits Corp. He and his wife, who live in San Diego but visit Geneva several times a year, have made major gifts over the years — through their foundation — to local organizations such as Finger Lakes Health, the Boys & Girls Club of Geneva, Happiness House, and the Geneva Public Library.
“This has been a long time coming and we are excited,” Dave Rickey said. “I was a member of the YMCA in the ’70s and knew the facility was in need of renovation. We hoped to break ground originally in the spring of 2020, but lost two years due to Covid. We look forward to seeing this project finally happen.”
“I have always been impressed by the number of programs the YMCA offers and the community spirit and volunteer involvement of the people who live here,” Brenda Rickey added.
The project includes a two-story, 9,000-square-foot addition featuring an exercise studio; a gymnasium remodel, including a new wooden floor; renovation of the current weight room for an expanded childcare area; extending the main lobby into the current childcare area; and infrastructure upgrades like new roofs, men’s and women’s locker room renovations, and repaving the parking lot.
The YMCA also is using a $750,000 regional economic development grant from the state. Charlie Evangelista, the Y’s former director and one of several people who met with the Rickeys last fall, said other grant money is being sought.
“We’ve never been as close as we are to start this project, which has been discussed for at least 10-12 years and more in the last 3-4 years. I believe we are right at the altar, which is a good thing,” Evangelista said. “This is not just about brick-and-mortar and the facility. It’s about the amount of people we are serving. We are bursting at the seams for childcare, after-school care, we have a long list for (summer) camp. We want to improve senior citizen programs. This is driven by our the constituencies that use the facility and is not a grandiose project.”
Bakogiannis previously said the project will be done in phases, and the Y will remain open during construction and renovation.
“We have worked hard in the community to get the word out, and the community has been very generous and continues to give,” she said. “We will keep plugging away. We are not done with fundraising by a long shot. This upgrade is needed now more than ever. This building serves so many people and is the heart of so many relationships. This project is going to mean great things for this community and will allow us to do so much more.”