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Local Students to Assist in Restructuring GLOW YMCA


Local Students to Assist in Restructuring GLOW YMCA

Back row L to R: YMCA Board member, Emiliana Batista, Mr. Lepkyj, Jacob Rissew, Dahvid Anderson, Addison Paul, Brandon Christiaansen, Henry Winters, and Camryn Eick. Front row (left to right): Faith Baker, Taylor Frentz, Evelyn Phillips, Emma Jacobs, and Mr. Cudzilo


Local Students to Assist in Restructuring GLOW YMCA

Brandon Christiaansen and Jacob Rissew



Executive Director of the Orleans County Branch of GLOW (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming) YMCA, Jesse Cudzilo, proudly tours visitors around the amazing historical building that houses their health and fitness areas, after-school programs, summer camps and community center. 


Built between 1901-03, it was known as the Medina Armory.  It was designed by George L. Heins, a New York State architect and constructed of matched brown Medina Sandstone.  Its towers and battlements on Pearl Street housed the 29th Separate Company of the New York Army National Guard, which was formed in 1891.  It later became known as Company F of the National Guard’s Third Regiment.   Those members were called to duty to fight in several major wars and keep the peace in the Western New York area.  It was closed in 1977 and the Medina community formed the Armory Action Committee to keep it from becoming neglected. 


In 1997, the Lake Plains YMCA bought the 90,000 square foot building from the state.   IN 2008, GLOW YMCA purchased it.  Now residents take exercise classes, use the workout room and participate in after-school programs at the site.  Over the years, they have replaced the roofing, lighting and the exercise rooms.  They have launched capital campaigns to modernize the facility that included a handicapped accessibility ramp, a vestibule, lobby expansion for a social space, a child watch area, two unisex bathrooms and shower areas to make the space as functional as possible. 


Unfortunately, there are still areas that need to be improved and reconfigured, such as the women’s locker room and a basement kitchen.  The locker room space is equipped with two private showers, an oak bench and lockers, some original to the building and also made out of solid oak.  Sadly, some of the lockers had been sold off over time.  “This facility is so unique, and we want to make it the best for our patrons,” Mr. Cudzilo says.  “There is damage to the floors, the showers need to be replaced, and it is somewhat of an awkward layout.  Since we are community partners, we decided to tap our community to see if we could get some help in the remodel.” 


He reached out to Medina Junior-Senior High School Counselor Audralee Doll, who put him in touch with Technology and Engineering Education teacher Mike Lepkyj.  Mr. Lepkyj jumped at the opportunity to give his students a chance to use their skills.  “This is a great opportunity for my Interior Design students.  They will get some real-world experience and a chance to help out an organization that does so much for our community.” 


On February 16th, the class showed up for their initial walk through of the space and took measurements of the room and the features that needed to be incorporated.  The students seemed excited about the project.  When they got back to the classroom, they broke into groups to start their design process.  Student Emma Jacobs says she has been a member of the Y for over the year and she is excited to put her vision into her proposal.  “When I go there, I am always thinking of what they could do to improve it.  I have a lot of ideas, and I am really stoked to actually work on a project that is for something in the real world.”  Classmate Evelyn Phillips says she is enjoying the creative process.  “It’s really fun, and I am looking forward to reimagining the spaces and make them more practical.” 


Mr. Lepkyj says the students will work on about five proposals to show Mr. Cudzilo and the Board of the YMCA.  “What an amazing thing to be able to put on their resume,” says Mr. Lepkyj.  “How many high school students can say they designed a space for a local organization?”


Mr. Cudzilo also contacted Orleans/Niagara BOCES’ Principal Nicole Goyette.  She told him that the Orleans Career and Technical Education Center’s Building Trades students, with their teacher Matt Anastasi, would love to assist with the rehab and construction of the space.  “We are very excited about the partnerships with these classes,” says Mr. Cudzilo.  “It will be a lot of work.  We firmly believe that when kids are invested in their community, it becomes a source of pride for them.  I can’t wait to see their vision for the space and I think their input will be invaluable.  We are hoping that this generation coming up will embrace the history of this facility, and we can pass the torch to them to keep it viable for generations to come.  Our goal is to leave this building better than how we found it.”