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Eureka Way Building Announcement

Monday, January 13

Shasta Family YMCA acquires property next door with a $1.35 million dollar grant from The McConnell Foundation.


The McConnell Foundation finalized the purchase of a 24,000-square-foot building on the corner of Eureka Way and Court Street on Jan. 10 and has granted it to the Shasta Family YMCA, which is located next door. The building at 1740 Eureka Way was last leased by the owners of Wellgate Sports Club. Combining the two locations represents the largest expansion in the Y’s 73-year history in Redding. It creates a 6-acre campus at the main western gateway to downtown Redding and adds 50 percent more indoor space for the Y to grow its services for youth, families and seniors.

The McConnell Foundation is a long-time supporter of the Y, with historical grants totaling nearly $600,000, including Carl and Leah McConnell’s personal donation of $25,000 to the original purchase of the Court Street property and facility. With the purchase and donation of the corner lot on Eureka Way, the Foundation is placing a key entry to Redding’s revitalized downtown into the hands of a trusted community organization that is in the midst of rapid growth.

“We are thrilled to announce this purchase because it fits so well with the Foundation’s mission and all of our current priorities,” said Shannon Phillips, COO of The McConnell Foundation. “Converting an empty building to a vibrant part of the Y campus will beautify Redding’s core and provide space the Y needs to grow and serve our community.”

Membership at the Y has reached an all-time high, and the organization has been rapidly adding and expanding its services, including Y Club (a safe, healthy place for teens and tweens after school), Power Scholars (a summer learning program proven to close the achievement gap for disadvantaged youth), Diabetes Prevention Program (fighting back against the North State’s most widespread disease) and Foster Camp for our most at-risk youth.

“To continue our growth and service to the community, we simply had to have more space,” said Kristen Lyons, CEO of the Shasta Family YMCA. “This bold and generous move by The McConnell Foundation is going to have a major impact not just on the Y, but on our whole community as we grow to serve the significant needs around us.”

With McConnell’s support, the Y board of directors retained GRO Development to consult on a specific plan for the expanded facility. GRO specializes in the growth of YMCAs and has completed more than 600 projects nationwide, including more than 50 in California. The specific plan for using the new space will be developed based on GRO’s expertise and the board’s strategic vision for the Y.


Shasta Family YMCA:

In 1945, the year Shasta Dam was completed; W.D. Simmons led a Redding YMCA Committee working to bring the YMCA permanently to the area. Thanks to the committee’s work, the Shasta District YMCA was chartered July 17, 1946.

Using schools, churches and homes, programs and membership grew. A board led by Dr. Melvin L. Gumm, meeting at the Redding Hotel, re-chartered as the Shasta County YMCA on March 8, 1952.

From 1973 to 1998, the YMCA began to widen its program outreach into areas outside Redding, trying to meet the needs of a growing area. Having had several small offices at various locations over the years, it was apparent that the YMCA could be more effective in a permanent location. Between 1979 and 1980, the board raised $925,000 and started to look at a location to serve as the Y’s home.

In 1984, the Y purchased the Diamond International building and property, which included 19,000 square feet of building on four acres of land. In December 1984, the YMCA moved into the heart of Redding at this new home, located at 1155 N. Court St. Led by Dr. Gilbert Collyer, Shasta College president, a group of 25 men, who called themselves "The Y’s Men", raised the necessary money and spent countless hours swinging hammers to transform the lumberyard. In 1986, a capital campaign made it possible to complete a double gymnasium, health fitness complex, and staff offices. In the late 1980s, the Y started running after-school programming, and eventually moved those programs out of the Y facility and into the schools.

Ten years later, in June 1996, community donations paid for an outdoor heated pool. In 1997, a pool locker and shower facility was completed. In 1998 and 1999, the Shasta County YMCA, doing business as the Shasta Family YMCA, added approximately 2,500 square feet. This phase included the indoor pool, a new wood aerobics floor, a loft for cardio and weight equipment, a soccer field, and a playground and running course.

The community support and expansion continued through 2004, when the Y received a $1 million grant from the California Department of Juvenile Justice to add a youth conference center, gym and stage. During construction, a new lobby, child watch room, front desk area, bathrooms and weight area were built.

In 2012, The Shasta Family YMCA added 3 more group studios to increase the number and variety of programming, and an ADA-compliant wellness center with cardio and strength training equipment.

The membership of the Shasta Family YMCA has grown to 8,000 from 800 when it opened its doors at the 1155 N. Court St. in 1984. It has touched thousands of lives through its swimming and swim teams; team sports; fitness classes, chronic disease prevention programs, preschool, after-school care and summer day and residents camps for youth of all ages.

The Y also supports a variety of local organizations by opening its doors to their program participants and clients, including Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, One Safe Place and the Good News Rescue Mission, as well as elementary schools, junior high and high schools, colleges and more.

Most recently, during the devastating Carr Fire, the Shasta Family YMCA stayed open to welcome the entire community to use the showers and computers and connect with each other for support. The Y offered a free 3-day camp so children could be with other children who experienced similar experiences and parents could attend the resource center and take care of their family’s basic needs. After the initial emergency, the Y extended free 6-month memberships to anyone who lost a home or was displaced long-term by the fire.   

Many men and women of great foresight, imagination and dedication have led the Shasta Family YMCA. Today, the Y's membership is growing and more than 1,000 people walk through the doors each day. Because of the people who have built and supported the Y for 73 years it is able, more vigorously than ever, to focus on developing the potential of kids, improving our community’s health and well-being, and giving back and supporting our neighbors. Thanks to the community’s ongoing generosity, the Y can meet the rising requests for financial assistance in childcare, membership, programs and camp. This means everyone, from all lifestyles, can benefit from and enjoy the YMCA.

Guided by a new Strategic Plan, the Board of Directors and Y staff are committed to building the organization’s capacity through facility growth, improved program quality and staff development that will ultimately result in a sustainable and thriving Y to serve generations to come. 

The McConnell Foundation:

Carl McConnell was born near Chicago and moved to Siskiyou County, California in the mid-1920s. Leah Fairchild was born in the small mining camp of Humbug, California, and raised in Yreka. They were married nearly 50 years and had no children together.

The McConnells were entrepreneurs involved in a variety of business and real estate partnerships. Carl and Leah McConnell were among the largest shareholders of Farmers Insurance Group. The Foundation’s assets are derived substantially from these long-held stocks, purchased in 1928 by Carl’s parents and sold in 1988.

The McConnell Foundation was formed by Carl and Leah McConnell in order to share the benefit of their lifelong accomplishments. Though the Foundation began actively giving significant amounts of money in 1988, it had its genesis in 1964 when Carl and Leah formed the Foundation. The McConnells regularly gifted small amounts of their personal money to such groups as the Guide Dogs for the Blind and the YMCA before the Foundation’s giving was underway.  In 1990 Leah made an anonymous donation to of the former Coca-Cola building to the City of Yreka for the purposes of a YMCA.  She also gave a $500,000 anonymous cash donation designating half for capital improvements to the building and the remainder going to an endowment fund.

In 1985, the year of Carl’s death, the Foundation received $1 million. For the next few years, Mrs. McConnell contributed several million dollars to the Foundation. The scope of giving was significantly increased in 1989 when Mrs. McConnell elected to contribute to the Foundation her interest in a trust. The trust was valued at approximately $42 million and had been created from Carl’s estate and the sale of the Farmers Insurance Company stock.  The Foundation was the primary beneficiary of Mrs. McConnell’s estate upon her death, and the asset base increased to about $250 million. Today, the Foundation’s asset base is $450 million.

Through the uncommon generosity of Carl and Leah McConnell, The McConnell Foundation is a philanthropic organization positioned to help build better communities today and for future generations.

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