Local YMCA awarded energy efficiency, soccer grants

Pictured during the Efficiency Forward grant presentation are, from left, Ricky Martin, Pete Amerson, Beth Thomas, Lee Hall, Alex Alvarez and Paul Chason.

Atmore Area YMCA received a double dose of donations last week. One will be used to help make the Y’s gym more energy efficient; the other will provide funds for the local organization’s most successful program.

The bigger infusion of badly needed financial support came in the form of a $10,000 Efficiency Forward grant from Alabama Business Charitable Trust (ABCT), which was founded in 1992 by Alabama Power.

“This is the third Efficiency Forward grant made to the Atmore YMCA over the past few years,” said Beth Thomas, external affairs manager for Alabama Power’s Mobile Division. “The grant will be used to upgrade an HVAC system at the Y. Other grants have been used to improve lighting and to also make upgrades to another HVAC system.”

Thomas added that ABCT “partners with agencies that help low-income families pay their energy bills” and also “supports programs that promote energy efficiency for non-profits and low-income individuals and families.”

The trust has awarded more than $1.2 million in Efficiency Forward grants to more than 150 organizations since it was established in 2007.

“Atmore YMCA is the only organization that has gotten one so far this year,” pointed out Thomas, who was joined by Ricky Martin, manager of the local Alabama Power office, and Lee Hall for the presentation.

Paul Chason, the local Y’s CEO, said the grant money would cover the bulk of an upgrade that will make the facility’s exercise and fitness area much more energy efficient.

“The grant is for $10,000; the total project cost will be $13,200,” Chason said of the venture, which is expected to pay for itself in a relatively short time. “We should recover the cost in three years through savings on utility bills.”

He said the project would include not only the replacement of an antiquated cooling and heating unit, but also installation of insulation in the empty space above the fitness area’s ceiling.

“Our fitness center requires 20 tons of environmental control, and we have 10 tons,” he explained. “The 28-year-old gas unit will be replaced by a more efficient heat pump. Further, the project includes installation of 4,512 square feet of insulation in the gym. There is no insulation up there now. I checked, and there’s nothing but wood. That will be a big thing; it will make our new heat pump work more efficiently.”

Chevy soccer grant
The second grant, an annual $500 award from Chevy Youth Soccer (part of Chevy Youth Sports), was presented by Cheryl Boyington of Chuck Stevens Chevrolet in Atmore.

“We’ve been doing this for at least five years, because I’ve been here five years and we’ve done it every year that I’ve been here,” said Boyington. “We also help out with equipment.”

Chuck Stevens Chevrolet’s Cheryl Boyington, in foreground at left, presents the soccer grant to, from left, Pete Amerson, Alex Alvarez and Paul Chason.

Alex Alvarez, a Y board member and president of Atmore Soccer Inc., said the money would be put to good use for a program that has seen rapid growth since its establishment three years ago.

“We really appreciate this money,” Alvarez said. “It costs a lot just to paint the fields, and we have to paint them once a week. It’s hard to believe we started off in 2015 with 35 kids and now we consistently have 110.”

According to the Chevy Youth Sports website, the automaker sponsors instructional clinics, donates equipment, provides uniforms and refurbishes fields for youth programs that “raise self-esteem, encourage academic success and provide important life lessons about perseverance, teamwork and learning how to win (and lose) with grace and dignity.”