The Armed Services YMCA opens a new 54,000-square-foot wellness facility in Harker Heights. Ground was broken in 2014, marking the culmination of years of planning and fundraising for a new full family center that will serve an estimated 15,000 people and that’s designed to meet the specific needs of military families and children.
“We are celebrating our 50th anniversary in the greater Fort Hood area this year, and we could not be more excited to bring this facility to everyone during our celebratory year,” said John Marshall, Killeen Armed Services YMCA media relations director.
“We had this vision that started about nine years ago to get this going, and the whole time it’s been a push to benefit soldiers and our communities,” said Cindy Davis, Armed Services YMCA board member and fundraising chairwoman.
The idea for the facility started when Davis and Tony Mino, Armed Services YMCA executive director, encountered soldiers asking where the YMCA was. During both the Gulf War and soldier returns from Afghanistan, Davis said ASYMCA officials noticed soldiers were going to rehabilitation facilities, away from their families. A survey indicated a family center was a community need for soldiers, families and those receiving rehabilitation. With more ASYMCA board members in place than in prior years, ASYMCA officials researched partnerships and grants, and pushed city officials to support the project, Davis said.
The first off-post Armed Services YMCA will serve both military and civilian individuals age 6 months old to seniors from all area communities. “There’s something for all ages — swimming, exercise, fitness, cooking classes,” Davis said. “This building gives us the ability to do so much in one place and to interact with the community on so many levels and age brackets.”
Community partnerships are also an integral part of the opening of this new facility. Included in the multi-floor facility will be Seton Medical Center’s physical therapy rehabilitation area and the Killeen Independent School District will train its student athletes in the facility’s pool.
“The YMCA has three areas of focus that include youth development, social responsibility and healthy living”, Marshall said. “Joining the Y is more than just a membership — it is a part of a community organization whose roots run deep in the community,” he said.
For more information on the new facility and the impact the Armed Services YMCA is having in the community, visit http://www.asymca.net/.