YMCA honors past leaders at dedication

October 18, 2004|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - When a time capsule in the wall of the Chambersburg YMCA's new addition is opened in the distant future, the cuff links, ring and pocketknife found inside will say as much about the dedication of people as the dedication of a building.

The University of Pennsylvania cuff links represent the late Judge George C. Eppinger, a past president who was instrumental in getting the YMCA built 48 years ago.

Also included are a Masonic ring representing the late Dr. Dwight Edwards, a lapel pin of the late Marguerite Newkirk and a Pennsylvania Senate citation honoring the late Ernest "Sam" Kessinger, for whom the YMCA's Sam's Kids program is named, past president Hugh Jones said as the mementos were placed in the capsule.


Jones said the pocketknife is for Eldon Nuernberger of Chambersburg, a retired engineer who has spent more than half a century dedicated to building and expanding the YMCA.

Past president Samuel Worley said Kessinger used to bring underprivileged children to the YMCA in his station wagon.

"They don't bring them by station wagon anymore. They bring them in by busloads," Worley said.

The roots of the YMCA in Chambersburg date back to 1873, just 22 years after the first YMCA opened in Boston, Executive Director Dave Matthews said. The community has had continuous YMCA activities since 1886, he said.

A building to house those programs, however, was a long time in coming. William H. Fisher began a campaign for a building in 1918, but America's entry into World War I interrupted, Matthews said. The timing was bad again in 1929, when another effort got under way at the same time as the Great Depression, he said.

In 1943, Fisher and Edwards started another drive, Matthews said. Thirteen years later, on Oct. 18, 1956, the YMCA dedicated a $300,000 building on McKinley Street.

Expansions were opened in 1976 and 1985, Matthews said, each costing $750,000. The expansion and renovation of the building celebrated Sunday cost $1.5 million, he said.

President Clint Bolte said 90 percent of the $1.2 million in contributions raised so far came from individuals. The planning began in 1994 and included refurbishing the swimming pools, and heating and air-conditioning systems last year, he said.

"I think it opens up a lot of opportunities as far as the after-school program ... possibly even tutoring classes in the future in conjunction with the school system," Community Youth Director Dwayne Horst said of the new teen center, which has computers and study tables, along with table games and a video center.

For Kari Snyder of Scotland, Pa., the YMCA represents continuity.

"We just moved here from North Dakota and he was involved in the after-school program there," she said of her 9-year-old son, Brady. Snyder said she and her two younger children will take part in the swimming program for parents and toddlers.

The teen center is something the YMCA did not have in North Dakota, as is the busing of students from their schools directly to the YMCA, she said.

Along with raising money to pay off the balance on the new construction, Matthews said about $400,000 more is needed to install an elevator for the handicapped, build a teen fitness center and outdoor play area, and expand the baby-sitting program.

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