ROANOKE, VA -
On the corner of Gainsboro Road and Orange Avenue, the Gainsboro YMCA has been a part of the community for decades.
Operations director, Bobbie Wolfe, says this branch has been working hard to improve its connection with people who live in the area.
"We've heard people say it was a warehouse. People didn't know it was an actual active Y, with people using the facility," says Wolfe.
Over the summer, the building got a facelift-- new paint and a new roof. And thanks to a membership program that started just about a year ago, more people in this community are able to call the Gainsboro YMCA home.
At the start of 2013, this branch started offering a $10 basic express membership, which covers access to all cardio and strength equipment. Wolfe explains the YMCA does offer financial help for anyone who needs it, but that's not a decision everyone is comfortable making.
"There are some folks who may be uncomfortable approaching a staff person, approaching them and asking for help," says Wolfe.
"Our goal is really to be able to open our doors to all people, regardless of their financial abilities," explains Kim Bratic, communications director for the YMCA.
And the basic express membership is doing just that-- offering a flat $10 a month fee to anyone who walks in the door. It's an option Steven Greenway, who works downtown, was excited to hear about.
"I got a membership last January, when they started offering an affordable $10 package," says Greenway.
And he's not the only one. Over the past year, membership at this branch has doubled.
"The 10 dollar rate, once it happened-- we had a lot more members coming in, they were interested, asking questions," says membership assistant, Megan Ward.
"You can see when you come in," Wolfe says. "The programs have more participation, people are using the treadmills and the bikes."
With 2014 right around the corner, the YMCA Express at Gainsboro is hoping to continue its growth-- helping those in the community it serves.