Snook Family YMCA plans to “rebuild, recover, reconnect”

By Jessica Vaughn
Posted 12/4/20

FOLEY - Driving by from the highway, the only thing that may look different about the Snook Family YMCA in Foley is the lack of cars in the parking lot. The building itself still stands, offering the …

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Snook Family YMCA plans to “rebuild, recover, reconnect”

Photo by Jessica Vaughn

FOLEY - Driving by from the highway, the only thing that may look different about the Snook Family YMCA in Foley is the lack of cars in the parking lot. The building itself still stands, offering the illusion that all is well within.

“I’d been given a little warning over the phone, ‘just want to prepare you, don’t be surprised,’ and that was it, nothing else was told to me,” recalls YMCA of South Alabama CEO Sue Sanders. She received the warning as she headed to the YMCA following the events of Hurricane Sally. When she arrived, she found staff members parked by the road, unable to get into the parking lot due to the water. She waded her way into the building. She couldn’t image the sight that was awaiting her when she made it inside.

The automatic sliding doors laid in shambles on the floor. The roof over the rec center had been blown completely off. Throughout the entire facility, ceiling tiles and light fixtures were hanging limply from their once secure locations. Water was still dripping down into the building in nearly every room. In the end, all salvageable items had to be moved to a large storage facility, and the building has been gutted.

“Know that we’re working every single day and night,” Sanders said. “We’re working with our insurance company to make sure that every T is crossed and every I is dotted. We have a lot of details that we have to work out to make sure that we have our contractor inspect everything to make sure that nothing is left out of the policy that needs to be repaired … We need the community’s help.”

A nonprofit organization, the Y thrives off memberships and partnerships. 2020 has proven difficult for the organization, as COVID-19 forced a shutdown earlier this year, during which the Y remained in operation to care for children of essential workers and hand out free meals to local children. Though able to persevere during the pandemic, Hurricane Sally has delivered a different challenge. Due to the amount of devastation to the building, a $120,000 deductible needs to be met in order for the YMCA to begin to rebuild.

“Please know that you can help us through prayer,” Sanders said. “If you’re led in any way whatsoever to come in and you want to help paint, then once the contractor lets you in pick up a paintbrush and help us paint. If you want to pick up a nail and hammer and help us in that manner, or if you don’t have those talents and you want to come by and give workers a bottle of water or soda. If you prefer to drop a dollar or two into the donation box or donate online, then please feel free to do so … We need you more than ever before to help us move this branch forward.”

The YMCA serves to strengthen the foundations of the communities they serve, those foundations being youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Its mission is to “put Christian principles of faith, hope and love into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.”

“The YMCA offers a service that we don’t currently have, and that’s why the City of Foley supports them - they provide those services for our citizens,” said Foley Mayor Ralph Hellmich. “They do a very good job, the staff is efficient, and they function with a lot of volunteers to provide that great service to the community.”

For those who would like to donate online, visit Pledge Cards are available at the Snook Family YMCA, located at 2560 South Pine Street #1122, or in-person donations can be made onsite. For more information, call 251-970-3003.

“When you’ve impacted lives for 20 years, you can’t just stay closed,” said Sanders. “This is a wonderful community, and I cannot wait until we are open and active and ready to welcome you back into this building. It won’t look the same, it’s going to look better than what it did before.”