HAMILTON HEIGHTS – A groundbreaking and dedication ceremony held Monday, Dec. 16, signaled the start of $2.5 million in renovations for the YMCA at 5555 Page Blvd. Because of the snowstorm, the ceremony was held indoors.
Construction on the facility, formerly known as the Monsanto YMCA, is being supported with a $1.5 million grant from Bayer and an anonymous gift of $1 million.
Plans for the Bayer YMCA include a larger Early Childhood Education Center; more health and wellness services; and a STEM & Teen Technology Center and community kitchen.
“We are thrilled to begin what are substantial upgrades planned with the mindset of addressing some of the most critical challenges facing north city,” said Tim Helm, president and CEO of the Gateway Region YMCA.
The facility on Page has a historic past. After several attempts, it was founded in 1912 as the Afro-American Young Men’s Christian Home Association. In 1964, its Junior Kindergarten program, which was initiated as part of the White House’s program on early education, became a model for the national Head Start program.
“This YMCA branch is a beacon for the North St. Louis community. Over the years, it has provided much-needed services to combat violence, health disparities and develop educational opportunities outside of the classroom,” said Al Mitchell, Vice President of Corporate Engagement for Bayer. “Bayer believes health and education are great equalizers for the obstacles many families may face. Our hope is that this investment will continue the great work this branch has demonstrated since our initial commitment in 1981.”