ST. MARYS — After five years of meetings, planning, fundraising and construction, the Otterbein St. Marys Life Enrichment Center is now a reality.
“Our journey began in October of 2007,” Otterbein St. Marys Director Fred Wiswell said Friday morning to a large crowd gathered at the dedication ceremony of the Otterbein St. Marys Life Enrichment Center. “Since that time, a visioning committee, a capital campaign committee, a Life Enrichment Center task force — made up of five six different sub committees — have met almost weekly, sometimes daily and almost certainly monthly, to vision, to attain charitable gifts and to plan every facet of this beautiful venue. Those certainly were no small tasks.”
Wiswell thanked all the people who served on the committees and thanked the leadership team and partners for their dedication to the project.
“This morning I want to salute each and every one of them for their excellence and their dedication and their support throughout this project,” he said. “The partners alone gave charitable gifts in the amount of $100,000 to this center, and I think that speaks volumes to their commitment and their dedication to Otterbein St. Marys, its residents and the future of this community.”
Wiswell also recognized the involvement and input of the Otterbein St. Marys residents.
“They got behind this project and put in as much time, resources, feedback and planning as anyone,” Wiswell said. “Their feedback is reflected in the design and function of this center. They lifted me up more times than they’ll ever know … Their generosity funded 75 percent of the total costs of the entire project. It’s simply amazing. We love and appreciate you and are blessed to work in this ministry with you.”
Auglaize-Mercer Counties YMCA CEO Allen Baskett said the partnership between the YMCA and Otterbein St. Marys is special.
“From the day that Fred (Wiswell) called and we had a brief conversation about an idea they had for the Life Enrichment Center to our follow-up meetings with representatives from Otterbein and our YMCA board, I knew we were embarking on something special,” he said.
The partnership between the two organizations was ideal, as their missions align perfectly, Baskett said. The Life Enrichment Center, he said, will enrich the lives of area residents. The 11,500 square-foot facility includes a wellness center with fitness equipment, men’s, women’s and family locker rooms, a library, a snack bar, a lounge and patio area and a four-lane, warm water pool.
“What would a Y-managed facility be without a pool,” Baskett said. “We’ve got one here.”
The Rev. Vince Lavieri led attendees in a dedication prayer and a song, “God, You Have Set Us.” The dedication of the center will be marked in history, Wiswell said.
“Today’s dedication is historic in a couple of ways,” he said.
“We understand that our collaboration with the YMCA is the first of its kind … And as Otterbein Homes celebrates its 100th anniversary this year and Otterbein St. Marys Lifestyle Community commemorates its 25th anniversary, certainly our dedication today commemorates those hallmarks of our ministry as well and adds another wonderful chapter in our history books.”
The theme for the fundraising campaign for the Life Enrichment Center, Wiswell said, was “Imagine the Difference.”
“Today we imagine no longer,” he said. “Our imagination is reality, and our reality will indeed make a difference for years to come.”