ROCKWALL – The Rockwall County YMCA was renamed the J.E.R. “Bob” Chilton YMCA at a ceremony Nov. 30 after the Heath businessman and philanthropist donated $2.5 million to the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas last week.
The gift is the second largest donation the Dallas YMCA has received in its 127-year history and is one phase of the $5 million master plan that will improve the overall complex.
The gift will allow the Y to do some much-needed capital improvements including increasing the size of the facility by more than 12,000 square feet and ultimately meeting the needs of the community in a more effective way.
At the ceremony – attended by Chilton, his wife, Dallas Y President and CEO Gordon Echtenkamp, new Chilton Y Executive Director Jayson Killough and Rockwall Mayor David Sweet – a new logo and new sign were unveiled in front of the facility displaying the new name.
“The generosity of Bob Chilton is truly humbling to me and to this organization,” said Echtenkamp. “Mr. Chilton has long been involved with the YMCA and we are honored that he has decided to invest again in this organization that is changing lives every day.”
Chilton has a long history with the YMCA. He grew up swimming as a member of the Downtown Y, coached his son’s football teams in the Y program and was on a capital campaign committee from 1997-1999 when he donated $750,000 to help build out the current White Rock Y, plus $250,000 to build out the natatorium for what was previously named the Rockwall Co. YMCA.
At the ceremony Chilton said the YMCA today encompasses so much more than the “Y” he grew up with.
“Today’s Y is a major factor in meeting the needs of present day society and demanding environment,” he explained. “Yes, the swimming lessons are still part of the Y program but, through its various impactful and numerous outreach programs – like outside-of-school care, teaching of life’s value lessons, and educating children how to be responsible citizens – the ‘Y’ is literally molding tomorrow’s communities thru today’s kids.”
“Because Rockwall is growing so rapidly the demand on its physical plant is intense. A larger updated facility will help the entire area. I believe the Rockwall ‘Y’ will be a center around which tomorrows community will evolve.”
By J.J. Smith