Whitehall Community Park YMCA restores classes, programs after tough year

Gary Seman Jr.
ThisWeek group
The Whitehall Community Park YMCA is at 402 N. Hamilton Road.

The Whitehall Community Park YMCA quietly has regained its footing following more than a year of year of shutdowns, capacity limitations and cancellations of programs.

Classes are rebounding as fears of COVID-19 coronavirus infections, the cause of the disruptions, continue to ease, YMCA executive director Elizabeth Zingale said.

The YMCA will hold a grand reopening of sorts June 7, when classes and programs officially open to the public, Zingale said.

Masks for guests and visitors could come off June 2, the date Gov. Mike DeWine announced for when the state mandate would be lifted, she said.

“It’s kind of like back to normal,” Zingale said. “The biggest thing is to try to get people to realize we’re here. People don’t know we’re back up and running.”

Nevertheless, the YMCA's youth camp, for children ages 5 to 13, reopens this month, she said.

“That’s huge," Zingale said.

At the end of May, 50 children had registered for the Monday-through-Friday camp, at which they are served breakfast and lunch, she said.

Youngsters usually take advantage of the site's 80-acre park with such activities as bird-watching, studying the creek and hiking.

“We’re very nature-based here,” Zingale said.

On a related note, youth programing – including such activities as art projects, disc golf and backyard games – also begins June 7.

The 28,000-square-foot facility, 402 N. Hamilton Road, is carved into separate rooms for people who have a variety of interests: a weight room, a community lounge, a soccer field, a music room, a teen room, a kitchen for cooking classes, a great room with a giant stage and a child-care room, which will open when a staff member is hired, Zingale said.

Brenda Hunter Rucker, a member of the Whitehall YMCA, said she missed the facility when it was closed and didn’t return until January, when staff members constantly were cleaning and monitoring guests for face masks and safe distancing.

Rucker, 65 and a senior member of the facility, said she was glad to hear restrictions were being lifted, people are starting to return and that the YMCA is getting word out that programs have returned.

“I appreciate the Y, and I’m totally happy they opened up,” she said. “And if they’re going to drop some of the restrictions, you know, the more the merrier.”

For more information on membership fees, schedules and registrations, go to ymcacolumbus.org/locations/whitehall.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary