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YMCA reopens Caroline Memorial Community Center

Representatives of the YMCA of Central Kentucky and members of the community and Chamber of Commerce met at the Caroline Memorial Community Center Tuesday afternoon for an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony. The event marked the onset of a vibrant new YMCA program in Nicholasville.

“This project’s been a long time coming,” said President and Chief Executive Officer David Martorano. “We’ve been working at this a long time.”

Martorano talked about the life of Nicholasville native Channing Coolidge, and his contributions to the area. In 1950, Coolidge announced plans to build a community center and high school for African Americans in Nicholasville. That center became the Caroline Memorial Community Center, a facility has been managed by the YMCA since 1977.

Martorano said that he wanted to get back to Coolidge’s original mission for the center: an open resource for the entire community. 

“I’ve learned about how important it is for the kids and families of this community,” Martorano said. “And how we needed to return it to its original state in providing free opportunities and drop-in activities for the education of our young people, and for our churches and community to come together and use it as a community resource. This community center is for all of us.”

In order to reach those goals, the facility underwent substantial renovation, including a remodeling of the building’s interior with new classrooms and ample event space. The Coolidge Foundation donated $200,000 for the project, which was combined with investments totaling $50,000 from the YMCA and other private donors to cover renovations. The work was completed by local contractors The Hayden Company.

“We are very grateful to the Coolidge Foundation who made it possible to bring new life and more opportunities to the Caroline Memorial Community Center to support this community,” said Martorano. He specifically thanked brothers Keith and Mark Coolidge, who were not in attendance, but were the third generation of the family to be the stewards of the Coolidge legacy. 

Several key individuals for the revamped facility were on hand to speak at the event. Among those introduced at the function was Vice President of Youth Development Jessica Berry.

“We’ve listened to the community and are excited to bring innovative programming and activities to address the needs of this community,” Berry said in a released statement on the reopening. “Although we will have a wide range of programming for all ages, we feel it’s important for all children to have an outlet to play and learn as well as participate in meaningful activities to inspire motivation and the ability to succeed.”

“We’ve renovated the center, now the fun and work is to come,” Martorano said.