Front of the Miller Center building, showing the YMCA sign, as well as signage for the joint venture of Evangelical and Geisinger

Degenstein Grant to Help Make Childcare in the Region More Accessible

Posted Posted in News

Through a generous $2 million grant from The 1994 Charles B. Degenstein Foundation, the Miller Center—through its joint venture with Evangelical Community Hospital and Geisinger and in partnership with the Greater Susquehanna Valley YMCA—is poised to make childcare in the region more affordable and more accessible.

The $2 million grant from The 1994 Charles B. Degenstein Foundation, along with a $1.68 million U.S. Department of Agriculture Community Facilities Congressionally Directed Spending Grant previously secured with the help of U.S. Sen. Bob Casey’s office, will cover the construction costs for a childcare center at The Miller Center. The plans include an expansion on the west side of the facility. Other operational details are still in development.

“Our workforce at Evangelical is at least 50% women, if not more. Accessing affordable, quality childcare is the number one issue I hear when discussing the challenges facing young families with employees and prospective employees,” said Kendra Aucker, President and CEO, Evangelical Community Hospital, and President and Board Chair, The Miller Center. “We have to get creative and help these families with this essential service.”

“As an organization passionate about the health and well-being of the communities in Central Pennsylvania, we understand that far more goes into mental and physical health than just medicine,” said Matthew Walsh, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Geisinger, and Board Secretary, The Miller Center. “We’re proud to be part of this collaborative effort that will help provide local families with the support they need to live productive and fulfilling lives in these incredible communities.”

“In order to operationalize the expansion and make quality, affordable childcare more readily available to the families who need it, we’ll be looking to area employers to join us in this effort,” added Aucker.

The need for more affordable childcare options continues to grow.

“There are nearly 11,000 pre-kindergarten aged children in Union, Snyder, and Northumberland counties and almost 60% of them have working parents,” said Bonnie McDowell, CEO, Greater Susquehanna Valley YMCA. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 1,500 childcare classrooms have closed in Pennsylvania. So as more and more children need care, parents face fewer and fewer options.”

Construction of the new space—the first step in this effort to address the community need—would not be possible without the support of The Degenstein Foundation.

“Charles Degenstein was a long-serving member of the Greater Susquehanna Valley YMCA and kids were his passion,” noted The 1994 Charles B. Degenstein Foundation Trustees. “The Foundation is pleased to continue its support of The Miller Center and the mission to develop a sustainable model of childcare that delivers more accessibility and more affordability to young families in our region. In addition, this effort benefits our business community by paving the way for more young families to remain in the workforce.”

Community entities coming together

Posted Posted in Miller Center

We are excited to announce meaningful changes to the Miller Center operation and ownership that will expand the programming, member resources, and long-term sustainability of the center. From the beginning, our vision was to create a comprehensive wellness resource for the community that was a ‘one stop shop’ for all generations to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle. We always intended to partner with the best agencies in the area that could bring their expertise to the center and share it with the community.

To that end, Evangelical, Geisinger, The Miller Center for Recreation and Wellness, and the Greater Susquehanna Valley YMCA have come together to accomplish something more than each entity could achieve on its own. Together, we are changing the face of health and wellness in this region.

Evangelical and Geisinger will form their first joint venture at The Miller Center. The facility will be gifted to the joint venture by a donation of the center from the Miller family and the joint venture will be acquiring an additional six acres on the northwest corner of the property to expand parking. Evangelical and Geisinger will maintain current fitness and recreational programming, as well as expanding clinical offerings, sports performance training, and more for preventative healthcare and wellbeing.

The YMCA will be contracted to handle the overall management of the facility, with the existing Miller Center employees maintaining their current roles as Y employees for the existing fitness and recreational programs. We will merge the membership and programming from the YMCA Express in Lewisburg with existing programming at the Miller Center, nearly doubling the current Miller Center membership at the outset of the new partnership.

In addition, the joint venture will be working with the YMCA, who will raise funds to construct two pools and expand childcare on the property, which will be accessible to all members.

The new entity will be known as the YMCA at the Miller Center, powered by Evangelical and Geisinger. The targeted date for the new joint venture to assume management of the Miller Center is before the end of the 2019 calendar year.

We will continue to keep you informed as the joint venture launches and plans for the facility and programming are finalized.

Each organization involved in this effort is committed to the betterment of this community and they have proved that by stepping up and doing what’s best for the Central Susquehanna Valley.

We are proud of what we’re doing together—keeping people healthy and encouraging them to live their best lives—and we hope you’ll join us in our excitement for the opportunities this move will afford us.