SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — As part of the expansive effort to update and modernize the YMCA of Coastal Georgia locations, the Pooler YMCA held a ceremonial “Golden Sledgehammer Swing” today to commemorate the ground breaking.

The $1.6 million investment intends to address challenges faced by the community in the post-pandemic reality by prioritizing an overall wellness focus with proven programs to prevent and control chronic diseases as well as well as physical fitness. In addition to the expanded and updated exercise areas, the new YMCA will offer space for nutrition education and community peer support.

During the event, pre-k students from West Chatham’s Child Learning Center provided a short performance. Architecture firm Felder & Associates also participated in the ceremony alongside West construction.

“It’s been 20 years since the West Chatham YMCA was updated. So we found a multitude of opportunities to better use floor space to serve the core constituency better. We’re adding glass walls for openness and transparency the childcare areas will be expanded into space for both younger and older children, and we’re adding more space for machines, cardio, and free weighs in the fitness area.” explained Brian Felder, Founder and Principal Architect of Felder & Associates.

Pre-k students from West Chatham’s Child Learning Center provided a short performance during the “Golden Sledge Hammer Swing”. Photo taken by Hollie Lewis.

“The YMCA is a pillar of our community, and with all of the growth in the Pooler area, the renovated West Chatham YMCA will have something for all walks of life. It’s a very forward-thinking endeavor for the Y.” said Matt West, President of West Construction Company.

The project is expected to take approximately six months, with a complete at the end of winter 2023.

“Because Y’s provide programs for families from babies through seniors we are a quality of life and economic development organization. YMCA’s are not community centers but more and more the center of community.” said Joel Smoker, President and CEO of the YMCA of Coastal Georgia.

Joel Smoker, President and CEO of the  YMCA of Coastal Georgia was the first to swing the golden sledgehammer to commemorate the groundbreaking of the renovation project. Photo taken by Hollie Lewis.

He continued, “Parents go to work children go to school, families come to the YMCA to stay healthy and build to build friendships. I’m really excited about this expansion and modernization project. It will make for a better Pooler and West Chatham community.”

“This is a very exciting time to be here I can’t wait for the members to see the finished project and for the new members yet to come here in Pooler to check us out.” said Shelly Fickau, Branch Director of the West Chatham YMCA of Coastal Georgia.

Pooler Mayor Rebecca Benton said, “I am so glad to have these improvements to this facility in the near future. I remember the 2005 opening and that was such an asset to our city. Since then we have grown by so many. Many families have used the facility and I hope many more will be able to use the new facility. This is just so exciting to have a wellness center for the Y in Pooler.” said Rebecca Benton, the current mayor of Pooler.

The YMCA of Coastal Georgia has been servicing the Coastal Georgia community for 167 years and continues to work every day to advance its cause to strengthen the community through its three areas of focus: youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Today, the YMCA of Coastal Georgia operates 11 units in Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long and McIntosh Counties.