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United Way of Lancaster County


YWCA Lancaster kicks off main phase of ‘YForward’ renovation project

YWCA Lancaster leaders and government officials use shovels to toss a trough of confetti during a ceremonial groundbreaking for the YForward renovation project on Monday, June 17, 2024. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

Stacie Blake

“This is such a momentous day,” YWCA Lancaster President and CEO Stacie Blake said.

Blake was speaking to the audience gathered Monday morning for a groundbreaking ceremony in the lower level of the nonprofit’s headquarters at 110 N. Lime St., Lancaster.

The room, formerly home to the YWCA pool, will be remodeled into new quarters for the Sexual Assault Prevention & Counseling Center. The work is part of the third and most ambitious phase of “YForward,” YWCA’s ongoing multi-year overhaul of its building.

Included in this round of work: Completion of 16 units of affordable transitional housing; installation of a new handicap accessible elevator; dismantling of the elevator tower on the building’s east facade and restoration of the porch there; and renovation of the south facade, including the creation of a dedicated private entrance for the relocated prevention & counseling center.

Speakers at the groundbreaking included, top row from left: YWCA Lancaster board President Dana Hamp Gulick; Christina Kauffman, representing U.S. Sen. John Fetterman; Ben Martin, representing U.S. Sen. Bob Casey; Terry Trego, representing state Sen. Scott Martin; and bottom row, from left: Rick Vilello, deputy secretary, Pa. Department of Community & Economic Development; State Rep. Mike Sturla; County Commissioner Alice Yoder; City Councilman Ahmed Ahmed. Click photos to enlarge. (Photos: Tim Stuhldreher)

Joining Blake were local and state officials, either in person or represented by staff from their offices. They concluded the ceremony by donning hard hats and picking up shovels to toss confetti in lieu of dirt.

This rendering shows renovations planned for YWCA Lancaster’s East Orange Street entrance. (Source: YWCA Lancaster)

The YForward renovations position YWCA Lancaster to address acute community needs, they said; and the project demonstrates the strength of the collaborative spirit in Lancaster.

County Commissioner Alice Yoder previously led Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health’s community health program. YWCA Lancaster’s activism has led to important changes, she said including the creation of appropriate facilities and standards of care for sexual assault victims at local hospitals and the creation of the Lancaster County Children’s Alliance.

YForward’s creation of additional supportive housing is an essential step, she said: “Wellbeing starts with a roof over your head.”

Phase 3 of YForward is expected to take 12 to 15 months, and cost about $10.3 million, Blake said. The first two phases were as follows:

  • Phase 1: Insert a new floor deck midway up the walls of a former two-story gymnasium to divide it into two single-story levels; frame out eight of the 16 new apartments in the newly created upper level. ($800,000)
  • Phase 2: Fill in the basement pool with cement; conduct related demolition to prepare for the relocation of the counseling center. ($400,000)

The fourth phase will involve reorganizing the first floor and renovating space used for the YWonderful childcare and early childhood education programs. The estimated budget is $3 million or so. The timeline depends on how soon YWCA can raise the necessary funds, Blake said.

YWCA Lancaster President Stacie Blake, at podium, kicks off the groundbreaking in the basement of the nonprofit’s headquarters, the future home of the Sexual Assault Prevention & Counseling Center.

A range of federal, state and local grants are supporting YForward. Among the awards are $639,000 in federal HOME funding awarded through a city-county consortium; $200,000 in block grant funding; $1 million in county American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding; $500,000 in city ARPA funding; $460,726 in city CARES Act funding; $338,750 through the state Neighborhood Assistance Program; $2 million from the state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program; $1 million from the state’s Local Share Account program; and a $995,000 earmark in the FY2023 federal budget.

(Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

YWCA Lancaster is seeking another $694,776 from the Local Share Account program; that application is pending. It has also been seeking foundation funding and private contributions and in-kind donations; later this year, a public capital campaign is to be launched.

At $15 million, the YForward budget is nearly three times YWCA Lancaster’s annual operating budget. It’s a lot because “a lot needed to be accomplished,” Blake said.

“We’re doing something bold,” she said. “We’re going to transform this landmark, 135 years old, to meet the needs of today and tomorrow.”