Why the 'Y' was so Important to Fresno Natives

May 29, 2009 8:11:36 PM PDT
A century old fitness center built for the Fresno community is closing its doors Saturday for good. Action News reporter John-Thomas Kobos spoke to long time YMCA members about what made the club special.In less than 24 hours the downtown Fresno YMCA will no longer serve the community. "It's a heartbreaker," said Stan Poss.

Dan Tackeuchi: "Difficult for myself to say goodbye."

"Fresno should have been able to support a "Y" downtown," said Joan Poss.

In fact, Fresno is now the largest city in the U.S. without a 'Y.' Poor membership, a rough economy and racking debt of more than half a million dollars is to blame says board chairman John Shehadey. "All the money, people left too and the support has not been there."

The equipment and everything inside this building will be sold. Bidders have already started looking. The money will help pay off the "Y's" debt.

Loyal members, also known as 'the Y-Guys,' said they will always remember why this place was so special.

"Meet with our friends. It's a great diversion while at the same time getting in some exercise," said Jack Emerian.

"These are really my life time friends here," said Dan Takeuchi.

81-year old Dan Takeuchi counts on those relationships while training for his shot at another Olympic weight lifting medal. "You can't believe the type of people who belong to the YMCA here," he said.

The 'Y-Guys' hope popular programs like boxing relocate successfully once these doors close.

Student Emilio Adame said boxing keeps him away from gangs and focused on school work.

"I wanna box, but then I have to get good grades too," said Adame.

'Y-Guys' hope the next generation will find a place to develop the same comradery that started within these walls.

"It's Cheers. It's our version of Cheers. Where everybody knows your name!" said Emerian.

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