YMCA plan benefits unemployed

Published 8:56 pm Friday, July 24, 2009

Niles Daily Star

The Niles-Buchanan YMCA’s “Wellness Stimulus” program, offering free memberships to the area’s unemployed has an end date: Aug.6.

This means those who have recently lost their jobs still have a short time to take advantage of the program, offering free, limited time memberships and a chance to work out their stress – literally.

The initiative was announced back in June, developed to give those area residents who have been out of work an opportunity to spend some of their off time getting healthy and reducing stress at the YMCA facility in Niles with free memberships lasting for a three month period.

The board of directors with the YMCA met Thursday morning to discuss the progress of the program and decide upon  the end date.

Greg Schuman, membership and marketing director for the YMCA called the program “successful” and estimated 120 new memberships, which he said translates to close to 350 people including families and couples.

“We said from the beginning we’d continue the program as long as we were being fiscally responsible,” Schuman said. Now, those who have joined will see their free memberships expire around September.¬† The hope is those who’ve taken part in the program will continue their membership with the YMCA.

That’s the plan for Jon Rudolph, of Niles, who joined the program after it was announced in June.

Rudolph was laid off from his job in May and said he found himself no longer able to afford his membership to his former gym.

So he joined under the “Wellness Stimulus” initiative at the YMCA, where he hadn’t gone before.

“I love it. It’s been a great benefit for me,” Rudolph said.

Rudolph said he’d recommend the program to anyone currently out of work. It’s a good use of time, he said, after spending time sitting and sending out resumes and job hunting.

He hits the gym four to five days a week, Rudolph said and he plans to continue doing just that even when his three month free term is up.

“I will stay on board when this program expires as long as I can afford to,” he said.
The Niles-Buchanan YMCA developed the program after another YMCA facility in

Oregon reported that after offering free memberships to their locally unemployed, they received “an overwhelming response from the community.”

The Oregon facility stopped its promotion after signing up 250 to the program in just two weeks.

“People have been very grateful,” Schuman said. “The board members have been very pleased with the program.”

Depending on the ongoing response to the offer, Schuman said that should a significant influx of sign-ups occur, the initiative may end sooner than the target date, but for now the cut off is set for Aug. 6.

“If they can get in there and sign up and want to take advantage of it,” Rudolph said people out of work should “definitely” do just that.

“We’re really please with how it’s gone,” said Schuman. “And we’re happy to help families and members of the community.”