The big brick building across Greene Street from the edge of Vernon Park in Germantown has undergone a bit of an identity crisis of late.
For much of the time since 1922, when the National Register of Historic Places entry was constructed, it was known as the Germantown YMCA. That name actually dates back to its 1872 founding, but the group occupied other buildings for 50 years.
Then, in recent years, it was shortened to “The Y” in accordance with its national organization’s shift.
But when the national YMCA revoked its charter as a result of a two-year closing (the Great Sprinkler-Pipe Flood of 2008 created quite a problem), the “Germantown Y” name was not able to stick around for long.
So, members at a recent board meeting agreed to call the facility the “Germantown Life Enrichment Center: An historic interfaith association for culture and fitness.”
“I like the name change because it embodies the history of the organization,” said Maria Waters, spokeswoman for the GLEC. “The organization has grown a lot in recent years.”
Despite past and current financial hardships and restructuring, Waters said they are moving forward in a more positive light for its members: “The name change helps the organization grow more independently with endless opportunities.”
Most members at the facility on a recent day said the name change does not bother them. They just want to ensure there is a fitness center in the area.
However, Germantown resident David Schogel felt the name change is too long and will take some time of getting used to. Asked what he likes most about the organization, he noted, “the opportunity to have community meetings in a convenient location.”
Walters noted that membership has risen within the last few months, making way for more programs and events.
“This is the only organization of its kind in this area, and the residents want to make sure it stays,” said board member Robyn Brooker.
The organization will host “A Celebration of Germantown Life” to commemorate its new name from 1 – 4 p.m. Saturday. The event, which is open to the public, will include food, music, entertainment and tours of the facility.