For 30 years, neighbors in the north suburbs have been lucky.
They've had a place to work out, learn to swim, take part in activities for kids, teens and adults and more -- the North Area Family YMCA.
And, according to Executive Director Lisa Pachmeyer, it's a reciprocal relationship.
"The YMCA receives so much from [this] community," Pachmeyer said. "I believe the community wins by having a YMCA, and the YMCA wins by having the privilege of serving the community.
The YMCA: A history
The YMCA's service to this community started even before there was a facility. The YMCA started offering programs in the northern suburbs as early as the 1960s at the Pitcher Hill Community House, Slotnick Law Offices and Hollywood Park Clubhouse.
But for many area residents, that wasn't enough. So in 1977, volunteers kicked off a capital campaign to construct the North Area Family YMCA.
"The YMCA is volunteer-founded, volunteer-led and volunteer-based," Pachmeyer said. "This was no exception. This was a volunteer-driven process with many committed community members involved."
Thanks to those dedicated volunteers, the North Area Family YMCA opened its doors on Sept. 9, 1979 at 4775 Wetzel Road in Liverpool. The facility was the first suburban branch of the YMCA of Greater Syracuse, an association that today includes the Downtown YMCA and East Area Family YMCA. Fundraising is underway to build a new branch in Baldwinsville, the Northwest Family YMCA, at the corner of Route 31 and Drake's Landing.
Over the years, there have been a number of changes at the facility, certainly not the least of which is a constantly increasing number of members -- there are now 9,551 members, up from 5,000 just 10 years ago.
"We have experienced tremendous growth over the years," Pachmeyer said. "We're very well-received."
Other changes include a renovation and expansion in 2004, which added a 6,000-square-foot wellness center, family and special needs locker rooms, renovated the men's and women's locker rooms completely and expanded the front lobby to offer a central meeting place for members to social and spend time together.