EDITORIAL: Regifting of Voni Grimes Gym was truly a cause for celebration in York

York Dispatch
  • The Voni Grimes Gym has been in existence for more than 100 years.
  • The facility at 125 E. College Ave. in York recently celebrated a renovation project.
  • The gym is named after a legendary York advocate and educator who died in January at age 95.

There are some institutions that must not only be preserved, but nurtured.

The Voni Grimes Gym is one such institution.

The venerable facility at 125 E. College Ave. in the City of York has been in existence for more than a century.

With any luck, and lots of hard work, it will be here for at least another 100 years, serving local folks from 8 to 80.

That’s why the recent event marking the regifting of the gym was a reason for real celebration.

Two years of renovations: Over the past two years, the gym has been refurbished with new floors, fresh paint and updated bathrooms. There’s no doubt that the renovations were much needed.

Raheem McCrary, left, and Isaiah Deshields play ball during an open gym session at the revitalized Voni Grimes Gym in York City after a ribbon cutting ceremony there Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. The event marked the completion of a multi-year project at the community gym. Bill Kalina photo

On Tuesday, Oct. 30, officials gathered to celebrate the project. According to recreation program specialist Diaz Woodard it was not so much a grand opening, but a regifting.

"It's been here for 102 years, I thought the idea of us doing a ribbon-cutting as a grand opening of something that already existed didn't make sense," Woodard said. "We pretty much redid it and gave it back to the community ... it's nothing new. The Grimes has been here for years and been servicing our community for years."

Without doubt, the gym is a gift to the thousands who have made use of the building over the past hundred-plus years.

Tribute to its namesake: The gym is also a much-deserved tribute to its namesake — Voni Grimes, who was a legendary York advocate and educator who died in January at age 95.

The renovated space is exactly what Voni Grimes would have wanted for the community, said Grimes' cousin, Casey "Kat" Rossum, who affectionately referred to Grimes as "Uncle Bus."

Farewell to York's 'Uncle Bus,' advocate and educator Voni Grimes

"He was born in the gym and lived in the gym. He would have loved to see it remodeled," she said, adding that he did see it because he was there in spirit.

Business community steps up: Of course, the renovations wouldn’t have been possible if someone didn’t pony up the cash necessary. Fortunately, the York County business community stepped up big time.

The city, YWCA York and Royal Square Development partnered with Glatfelter Insurance Group, M&T Bank, Northwest Bank, PeoplesBank and the York Water Co. for the renovation. The five local businesses each pledged $50,000 a year in a Pennsylvania tax-credit program administered by YWCA York for the renovations.

York City Mayor Michael Helfrich said the city is applying for a fifth year of funding to work on the exterior of the building and improve the park and the surrounding outdoor land.

"In the heart of the neighborhood:" Maintaining the gym must be an ongoing endeavor for a space that YWCA CEO Jean Treuthard correctly says “lies in the heart of the neighborhood.”

The Voni Grimes Gym is a true asset for the City of York. That’s why we must continually work diligently to preserve, protect and nurture it for generations to come. And that’s why last week’s regifting was worthy of a true celebration.