Community center celebrates 25 years

Amy Boldt
The Geneseo Community Center has been keeping people fit and active for the last 25 years with its various programs and equipment housed in the center.

It has been 25 years since the Geneseo Community Center opened its doors and it is still going strong with new members getting in on the activities every day.

“I believe we have a great facility, a staff that is customer-service oriented and a community that embraces us and is active and fitness minded,” said executive director Molly Hamer. “The community has an active lifestyle and that gives us an opportunity to offer what we do. People are enthusiastic to try new things and we have programs for people of all ages, it is a great community.”

“The No. 1 thing we have is such a great staff,” said superintendent of recreation Ken Asta. “When our patrons come in they are treated like family. The members and the staff know each other so well and are greeted by name. That is why we have done so well.”

The community center that opened Jan. 16, 1983, offers a multi-purpose gym, program gym, sauna, walking/jogging track, cardio/weightroom, life fitness room, racquetball courts, babysitting service, indoor and outdoor pools, the George B. Dedrick Room and the Senior Citizens Center.

The original idea for the community center was proposed when the Geneseo Senior Citizen Site Council and the Geneseo Community Park District joined forces and combined efforts towards producing one building that would serve both groups and eliminate the necessity of two facilities.

The new addition of the community center was completed on Dec. 15, 2003, which added on the cardio/weightroom, life fitness room and program gym.

Geneseo’s community center is an extension of the Geneseo Community Park?District and is run by executive director Hamer. Her support staff includes superintendent of recreation, Asta; superintendent of facilities, Scott Himmelman and superintendent of finance and administration, Paula Verbeck.

The multi-purpose gym consists of two full size basketball courts, three volleyball courts, suspended track and two racquetball courts. Gymnastics classes and meets, along with several different leagues are held in the gym.

The cardio/weightroom contains treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes and other cardio equipment. The room also holds a full line of Magnum weight equipment, along with free weights and power racks to help keep the community in shape. There are also televisions positioned in the cardio area, along with one in the weight area for patrons to enjoy.

The life fitness room and program gym are used for the numerous classes offered at the community center from Tae Kwon Do to dance.

Hamer stated one of the main things that allows the community center to offer a wide variety of programs is its staff.

“Creative ideas from the staff and the willingness of our board and their forward thinking allows us to do what we do,” said Hamer. “The key is to stay current, keep up with and even set new trends and stay updated with what is going on.”

“The community of Geneseo is very involved in the center,” said Asta of why they are able to offer so many classes and why they are successful. “We provide opportunities to get involved and we are fortunate to get the community involved as much as they do.”

The indoor pool opened on Jan. 7, 1996 and is a four lane 25-yard pool. The outdoor pool located next to the community center has six lanes along with diving boards and waterslides. Summer swim lessons are held in the outdoor pool.

“(The community center) goes beyond fitness,” said Hamer. “We offer birthday parties for all ages and meeting space for area groups.”

The George B. Dedrick Room is available for members of the community to rent for a variety of functions. Several different groups within the community hold meetings there as well.

The Senior Citizen Center is also housed in the community center and is a place for seniors to get out of the house and socialize with each other.

The staff at the community center offers babysitting services for its members while they enjoy the classes and programs offered.

Growth, Inc. is another extension of the community center and moved to its current location on March 4, 1991. Growth, Inc. is a not for profit child care center that cares for approximately 154 children ranging in ages from six weeks to 12 years.

As far as what the future holds for the community center, the staff and administration have a few ideas to keep the interest alive.

“We are looking to expand and do minor renovations in the indoor pool area in the months to come,” said Hamer. “I have seen adults use our facility for other needs, while their kids are in programs. We are looking to offer more healthier snacks, along with slushies and fruit drinks instead of what is in the vending machines.

“We are also planning on expanding our general programming since our fitness, dance and gymnastics are so strong it gives us an opportunity to work on other areas.”

Some programs that are being looked at for the future are fine arts programs such as visual arts and performing arts, outdoor education with workshops to explore the outdoors and a foreign film society.

The park districts brochure of programs will also get a change with the look of the brochure and what is inside it, said Hamer.

“We are looking to offer an off-site trip series and we have activities planned for when kids are out of school,” said Hamer. “We are also looking into different teen programming to give teens some exciting activities. There are things we can do to give kids alternatives to have fun.”

Another new endeavor for the community center in its programming is the staff will be forming a partnership with Hammond-Henry Hospital to offer even more opportunities to the community.

The staff plans to celebrate the 25th anniversary in October and a series of happenings will be included in the upcoming park district brochure, said Hamer.

The Geneseo Community Center’s administrative staff from left: Paula Verbeck, Scott Himmelman, Ken Asta and Molly Hamer.