BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — New programs and projects are in the works for the Anthony Wayne Youth Foundation.
During a March 24 open house, AWYF board chair Drew Miller pointed to renderings of a sports field facility for the Blue Creek Recreation Area (BCRA). A capital campaign is underway to raise funds for the facility, which would provide storage space, a conference room and – most importantly – public restroom facilities.
“We’ve heard many times that people want restrooms,” he said, noting that while kept clean, the portable restrooms at BCRA are especially tough for families attending games with small children.
The sports field facility would be located near the Stiles Road parking lot and provide storage for sports organizations that are currently using a trailer or keeping equipment in individuals’ homes. The BCRA field maintenance equipment, which is currently kept outside, would have indoor storage, as well.
“For equipment with moving and hydraulic parts, outdoor storage means extra maintenance costs,” Miller said.
Other plans call for batting cages along the north side of the baseball diamonds and paving of the Stiles Road parking lot.
The BCRA has undergone many changes since 2006, most recently the addition of a well. Family-owned Waterville Irrigation dug a 340-foot well, said Nick Anthony, a 2008 graduate and soccer dad. Once the parts are in for the pump, the well will pull in 200 gallons per minute at 90 PSI to water the entire complex in 60 different zones at 15-minute intervals each night, he said.
“This is one of the biggest systems we take care of,” he said.
The $80,000 project will be worth it in the long run, Miller said, explaining that the switch from paying for city water to drawing well water will save the foundation money. AWYF has worked closely with Farmers and Merchants State Bank in Waterville to ensure the start of this project.
Future capital projects on the list include drainage, irrigation and public restrooms at the north end, a press box and concession stand in the middle of the baseball fields, and field lights.
“We have a 50-year lease with the Metroparks and a 50-year renewal option, so as we’re putting money into the fields and building, we know we’re going to be there beyond 50 years,” Miller said.
Fundraisers are planned to help pay for the sports facility, including a golf outing on Sunday, August 21 at Riverby Hills Golf Club and a casino night in October.
AWYF held its third annual purse bingo on March 12 and the event raised $6,600, said executive director Taylor Kervin. Another purse bingo event is scheduled for March 11, 2023.
Fundraising is an ongoing necessity since the AWYF is not supported by a tax base like the Sylvania Recreation District, for example.
“We rely on donations and player fees. It’s a totally different paradigm,” Miller said. “We do well for what we have, which is no tax base.”
The AWYF also relies on volunteers to serve as board members, coaches and fundraising committee members for both the foundation and its many divisions – which will be growing, as well.
In March, the AWYF added the Anthony Wayne Junior Generals Volleyball Club (see related article in Sports). Rugby is also under discussion for inclusion. By August, vice chair Gary Loach expects to launch a Unified Sports Division. Working with the Lucas County Board of Devel-opmental Disabilities and the Lucas County Special Olympics Committee, Loach is developing a program that would offer monthly programs for youths of all ages and all ability levels, including those outside the Anthony Wayne area.
“If someone with disabilities is already involved in a sport with one of the other AWYF organizations, that’s OK. If they can’t participate now, then we want them to be in Unified Sports,” Loach said. “We want to be inclusive.”
Loach, a 2005 AW graduate, works for Capabilities, a referral-based organization that helps find employment for all abilities.
This summer, Kervin is planning a Community Day on Sunday, July 17 in the afternoon, during which the many sports organizations will gather at BCRA for fun activities to share with the community. More information about Unified Sports and rugby will be available at that time.
In the meantime, AWYF leaders are working with area partners, including the Maumee and Waterville chambers of commerce, as well as area municipalities, to continue enhancing programs for the 1,500 families and 3,500 youths it serves every year.
For more information, visit awyf.org.