Copyright 2017 San Angelo Standard-Times
All Rights Reserved
San Angelo Standard-Times (Texas)
The way A.J. Moore describes it, San Angelo's YMCA proves that while getting older is mandatory, feeling young is a choice.
Moore, the Y's CEO, was joined by a few dozen guests Tuesday to celebrate the Y's 70th anniversary.
"We just got new life in our Y now - not only in the staff, but in the members and in the programs," Moore said.
Pete Thiry, who served as CEO from 2009 to May 2017, attended the celebration at 353 South Randolph Street and offered his thoughts on the secret to the local YMCA's longevity.
"It just shows that (San Angelo's YMCA) serves its purpose in serving the community, serving family - young and old."
If service has kept the YMCA a community staple for the past seven decades, keeping it young and vibrant may have much to do with the energy and enthusiasm of its staff - particularly Moore.
"Everyone loves A.J., always have," said Anthony Wilson, who serves as Public Information Officer for the City of San Angelo and is on the YMCA board.
"Don't be fooled by his 'aw-shucks' personality," Wilson said of Moore. "... We're already seeing innovative approaches to everything from childcare to programming to budgeting. It's totally energized the staff."
Since taking over, Moore has initiated several changes at the Y that he says have been positively received.
"We're trying to do things that we had talked about before in small groups and thought, 'We ought to try this someday.' I'm one one of those guys that say, 'Let's take some chances on some things. Let's try something new.'"
There's already proof that Moore isn't afraid to experiment.
"We now have a senior citizen membership. We didn't have that before, and I thought we needed it. We're looking at starting a corporate membership as well as a military membership," Moore said.
Some programs Moore has taken chances on include expanding the Y's volleyball and basketball leagues to its younger members.
"I wanted everyone to have an idea and input in what we do. It seems that morale has improved, excitement has increased."
Other programs and events being considered include introducing a triathlon back to the San Angelo community as well as holding a pickleball tournament over the Christmas break.
"Just about every week our members come out (to the Y) and see something different. The members like a new feel to the Y. We've updated it and made the Y new."
Updates include upgrades to facilities and landscaping as well as new weights in the fitness center and new flooring in dressing rooms.
"Even though this building is still considered new, when you have between four and five thousand members coming in a on a weekly and daily basis, it puts a wear and tear on the place - especially when you have kids in here as much as we do," Moore said.
Moore began working for the Y in 2004, spending 10 years as the physical director and then serving as associate director before becoming the CEO.
When Moore became CEO, he chose not to fill the associate director position. Instead, he folded the associate director duties into his own job and reinvested $25,000 into the Y's staff to give them pay raises without going over budget.
"I had people with master's degrees who were making less than $30,000 and haven't had a raise," Moore said. "I said, 'I need to help these people. I got to show them that I care about them and what they're doing for this community.'"
Moore said taking on the extra responsibilities has been hard, but it's worth the investment.
"The staff I have are incredible people," he said. "And you have to have people that feel like they're committed to what they do."
Read More of Today's AB Headlines
Subscribe to Our Daily E-Newsletter