Last week, a donation in the amount of $30,000 was presented to the Neosho Freeman Family YMCA to help fund phase one of a planned three-part renovation and expansion.

"It's another chapter in the twenty-year relationship between Freeman Health System and the Neosho Family YMCA," Lisa Olliges, Marketing and Media Relations Coordinator for Freeman, said at the event.

Freeman Health Systems President and Chief Executive Director Paula Baker was on hand to make the donation and to talk about the long term partnership between the YMCA and Freeman. Renee Denton, Chief Operating Office for Freeman Neosho Hospital, local YMCA Board Members andBen Coffey, Tri-State Y CEO. The Neosho Freeman Family YMCA and the Grand Lake Family YMCA in Grove, Oklahoma comprise the Tri-State Y.

"In 2001, Freeman contributed 1 million dollars toward the construction of the Freeman Southwest Family Y in Neosho, now known as the Neosho Freeman Family YMCA," Baker said. "We're proud to announce another milestone, an investment that will provide dividends in the form of wellness and improved health. Both Freeman Health System and Freeman Neosho Hospital truly make wellness a priority. We know nutrition, exercise and state of mind play huge roles in a person's overall health. We believe in the Neosho Freeman Family YMCA. We know it plays an essential role in the community. It makes a very positive impact on health and provides a great resource for those living in the area."

The donation made last week will support the Neosho Freeman Family YMCA in a three-phase project.

Phase one will focus on enhancing the lobby experience.

The lobby at the Neosho location hasn't changed since the YMCA opened. The phase one project will redesign the lobby into an improved welcome experience when entering the YMCA.

"We decided to start at the front door and go back as far as we can to make a space that is warming, welcoming and engaging to the population that we serve," Coffey said.

Preliminary plans for the new lobby include a smaller desk area, additional space for social engagement and relationship building and a new color scheme.

Work is expected to begin on the lobby improvements in the first quarter of 2020.

Denton noted that Freeman Health Systems is continuing with the legacy begun with Dr. Onal Sale, who founded the original hospital in Neosho.

"Ninety-three years ago, a man by the name of Onal Sale saw the need to open the facility here in this community, where medical services could be provided. Thus, Sale Hospital was established," Denton said.

Later, a new hospital, Sale-Bowman Hospital, was built on what is now part of the Freeman Neosho campus by Dr. Sale and Dr. Bowman. The facility became Sale Memorial Hospital before becoming a part of Freeman Health Systems in the early 1990's.

"It is a natural step for Freeman to be part of this three-phase project that further supports activities that promote the wellness of our community," Denton stated. "We look forward to working together for many more decades on many more projects we work together to care for our community. We are thrilled to be part of this."

The four-year old class from the Neosho Freeman Family YMCA attended the ceremony, along with Tina Ferguson, Youth and Family Director of the YMCA in Neosho.

"This is absolutely amazing," Coffey said. "I am so happy to be here. This doesn't happen without trust and it doesn't happen with people getting together who are passionate about serving the community. This gift goes beyond just helping an individual."

Coffey pointed at the gathered youngsters and said, "This is who w're helping, not just us today but everybody beyond today. Kids, say thank you."

The children chorused an enthusiastic thanks.

"I want to say thank you for believing in us. Thank you for believing in our mission. Thank you for helping. This gift will go a long way toward serving people."

"This gift will support the Y in a three phase project to extend youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Already, the Y is a popular gathering place but this project will help to attract more young people by elevating opportunities for fun and youthful activity."

The Neosho Freeman Family YMCA is located at 4701 Chouteau Avenue in Neosho. They are a 24/7 facility for members and offer a wide variety of exercise equipment, aquatics, and more for all ages.

For more information about the YMCA in Neosho or about memberships call 417-451-9999.

The Tri-State Family YMCA was organized in 2011. It became a YMCA store front operation in 1996, housed in a former library building in Neosho. It has grown to include two facilities in Neosho and Grove OK, serving more than 10,000 members and community program participants.