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Centre reaches 999

Jennifer and Bobby Higgins, with son Jacob, hold up The Centre T-shirts they received for becoming the facility's 999th members since January's transition from the YMCA operation.

On Tuesday, Feb. 24, Jennifer Higgins stopped by the New Richmond Area Centre to sign her family up for a membership.

Little did she know she became a milestone in the history of the local recreational and fitness facility.

In December, as volunteers worked to develop an agreement with the YMCA to take over operations of the facility, The Centre set a goal of getting to 999 memberships by the end of 2009. Higgins was the 999th member to sign up in the past two months.

"I think we knew the community would support The Centre but I think we have all been pleasantly surprised at how strong that support has been," said Darian Blattner, executive director. "It is such a great community asset that I think people are rallying to support it and make sure that it is here for generations to come."

Meeting the membership goal is important, Blattner said, as it helps The Centre become self-sustaining.

"As our membership grows, so will the programs and services we provide for our members," he said. "With each level of membership we hit it provides us options to add programs, add services, and add staff to meet the growing membership base."

Blattner said The Centre staff is excited about how well the membership drive has gone so far and they are proud to be a part of the continued success.

"They work hard every day to make sure each and every person who comes through the door is given the best experience possible," Blattner said. "They are responsible for the change in attitude and culture at The Centre and I couldn't be more proud of our entire team for all they have done to get us to this point."

The Centre's transitional plan was to operate the facility as lean as possible and essentially turn the facility back over to the community. The community has responded and has helped The Centre exceed expectations so far, Blattner said.

Jennifer Higgins, her husband Bobby and their son Jacob were excited to join The Centre.

"We came in a while back when it was the YMCA but the prices were a little too high. It is very affordable now and Jennifer likes the child care option and swim lessons," noted Bobby.

Jennifer added she likes what The Centre does for kids in the community saying, "It's important for youth to have somewhere to go and something to do."

The family started using their membership right away with Bobby heading to the weight room and then the gym to shoot some hoops. Jennifer went to a Body Pump class after the couple dropped off Jacob in Kids Kove, the drop in child care area for parents while they utilize The Centre.

"It is great to see young families utilizing The Centre and the excitement we see in their faces when they come into the facility," Blattner added. "Things are going great and our staff is working hard to make sure that we continue to meet the needs of our members and the community."

The Centre is now starting to focus on new programs to improve the health and wellness of local residents.

The staff is working with businesses in the area to become more health conscious. Tate Wheeler and Brooke Campbell are working on bringing options to participating businesses in the region.

Blattner said the staff is also working to provide a wider variety of Swim School class times, and The Centre is also getting ready for summer which will include a lot of different program options for children ages 4 through 15.

"The hard work is ahead of us as we will be striving to keep our all members," Blattner said. "Getting to 999 won't mean much if we are not able to provide programs and services that our members want and need and ultimately keeps them members. Our volunteers are committed to making sure we do just that and we will begin the process of determining what facility needs can be addressed, what program offerings we can add, and what additional services can be made available to the community."