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SALEM YWCA aims to pair up with center



Published: Wed, May 30, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



One official called the proposed partnership a good fit.

By NORMAN LEIGH

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

SALEM -- YWCA officials are trying to craft an agreement with the Salem Community Center for the two facilities to join forces.

A partnership would likely mean that the YWCA of Salem would close its building at 364 N. Lincoln Ave. and begin operating from the community center, which is under construction along North Ellsworth Avenue.

"We have no intentions of disbanding the YWCA" in Salem, Sherrin Bielik, the facility's chief executive officer, said Tuesday.

Why the change? YWCA officials and many of its more than 550 members favor moving to the community center because it affords a chance to occupy a new building with more facilities, Bielik said.

She noted that the YWCA's structure on North Lincoln is more than 40 years old and isn't accessible to people with disabilities.

Should the YWCA move from its North Lincoln Avenue location, it would either rent or sell the building, Bielik said.

Another reason for the two facilities to join would be to avoid duplication of services, she added.

"I think it's an excellent fit," Eric Green, community center director said of the cooperative effort. "The Y brings a strong tradition of social programming. This is definitely a partnership in the making."

Should the center and YWCA join, the YWCA may begin concentrating more on its social services programming, such as teen pregnancy prevention, a women-oriented lecture series and women's health.

That could mean less emphasis on the YWCA's fitness classes, Bielik said.

Looking ahead: The $9.5 million community center, expected to open in summer 2002, would fill that gap with fitness facilities that will include a running track, weight-lifting center and swimming pool.

There are still plenty of details that must be worked out before an agreement can be reached on joining the two facilities, Bielik said.

One question is how memberships between the YWCA and the community center will be handled, she added.

Terms of the agreement will ensure that the YWCA maintains "a sense of autonomy by providing programs that stay true to our mission," which includes empowering women and strengthening families, Bielik said.

She said she expects she and her full-time staff of two people will continue to have jobs once the YWCA moves into the community center.

leigh@vindy.com




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