Story by Stefanie Jackson, Submitted Photos – The YMCA is coming to Northampton County, the result of ongoing efforts in community outreach led by Cape Charles Baptist Church and its pastor, the Rev. Russell Goodrich.
“God’s favor is on this,” Goodrich said of the project that, in six months, has already received $3 million of the $4.5 million needed to fund it.
“We are 66% of the way to a dream that most people in Northampton County would say would not happen,” he said.
Goodrich is thankful to the donors who have supplied funding, although he is not yet prepared to reveal their names.
“Things are going to change” in Northampton with “a resource that’s so incredibly important” for the community, Goodrich said. The YMCA will provide another much-needed outlet for recreation in the county and could even help reduce crime, he added.
The new YMCA will be built in lower Northampton County on Route 13 near Stone Road, leading to the town of Cape Charles.
YMCA of South Hampton Roads President Billy George, a key player in the new YMCA project, said the new facility isn’t going to be built for the sake of Northampton County having its own YMCA – it’s to benefit the community.
“We don’t build buildings, we build people,” he said.
The 15,000-square foot, first-phase YMCA facility will feature meeting rooms and outdoor, heated pools.
The goal is for every adult and child in Northampton County to learn how to swim, Goodrich said. The children’s swimming class will focus on second graders.
The YMCA of South Hampton Roads board of directors is expected to approve the project as early as September. “It’s going to happen,” Goodrich said.
It’s expected that the sale of the property will close in December, with groundbreaking to follow in January.
Northampton County officials are engaged in the project, and there are no zoning issues that may cause delays, Goodrich said.
As the plan to build a YMCA in Northampton County unfolds, it has become “a story of hope,” he said.
But the YMCA project is just one chapter in the community outreach story being written by Cape Charles Baptist Church and churches of all denominations all over the Eastern Shore.
Impact Virginia is another ministry supported by Cape Charles Baptist Church, which recently got its start in Northampton. High school students come from all over the state to do volunteer work on the homes of families who could not afford to make repairs themselves.
Last year, there were 120 people who volunteered at six work sites.
This year, 198 high school students and 241 total volunteers represented 14 churches and worked at 12 different sites, 90% in Fairview.
Northampton High School opened its doors for the weeklong event, where the volunteers slept, cleaned up, and ate meals provided by local churches.
The church community is also seeking to expand its Splash Camp, a summer day camp now in its seventh year. It was originally intended as an affordable summer childcare option for single mothers, but it became more than that.
Enrollment is open, so kids from all economic backgrounds are socialized together and learn from one another in a faith-based environment.
Some families pay $55 a week for the day camp, but scholarships are available.
The letters in “SPLASH” stand for Spiritual Growth, Praise and Worship, Lessons About the Lord, Awesome Activities, Swimming, and Hands-on Activities, Goodrich said.
Through the Baptist General Association of Virginia, eight mission teams “adopt” a week of Splash Camp and hold Vacation Bible School each day from 9 a.m. to noon.
Splash Camp activities have included field trips to the Salisbury Zoo and the Brownsville Preserve.
St. John’s Baptist Church, of Virginia Beach, Va., treated 38 kids to lunch and a Tides baseball game, after which the kids got to meet the players.
Campers go swimming at the beach three times a week, overseen by a lifeguard, and fishing at Kiptopeke State Park.
Last year, Goodrich contacted Olivia Collins, a supervisor at Northampton County Social Services, about bringing Splash Camp to a new location. In partnership with the Ebenezer AME Church in Capeville, of which Collins is also the pastor, a one-week Splash Camp was held in Cheapside.
Goodrich hopes to have two full-length Splash Camps in 2020, one in Cape Charles and one in Cheapside. More people are needed to volunteer time and resources.
Some of the community outreach programs also offer paid positions.
Goodrich is seeking a director for Choices, a new after-school program held at Cape Charles Baptist Church. He would like to see the program expand to other area churches and be offered to many grade levels.
The program provides snack, activities, and homework time, all while helping kids build character.
The community needs to support its schools in helping build up kids with good character who make wise choices, Goodrich said.
For more information or to become a part of one of the many community outreach programs supported by Cape Charles Baptist Church, contact the Rev. Russell Goodrich at 757-331-2110 or [email protected]com