Former SMAC swimmer leads Y renovation

Steve Farmer remembers what pushed the Waynesboro YMCA to do something about outdated women’s locker room. It came the day that the Y arranged to take a group of women who had been raising concerns about the locker-room facilities for women on a tour of the men’s locker room.

“They were a little upset that the men’s room was so much nicer than the women’s. That’s when it hit that we needed to do something,” said Farmer, the vice president of operations at the Waynesboro-based Mathers Team and a member of the Y’s board of directors, who has played a key role in the ongoing $50,000 renovation project.

Farmer has a sort of personal interest in the Y. “I started swimming on the swim team at age 5, and took swim lessons there at 2 or 3. I’ve been a member as long as I can remember,” said Farmer, who was a member of the Shenandoah Marlins Aquatic Club swim team through high school and was rewarded for his hard work and success with SMAC with a full-ride swimming scholarship to Auburn University.

At the Y, “I’d swim a couple of events at a meet on Saturday morning,then go upstairs and play a quarter of basketball and get three-quarters of the way through the next quarter, then run back down and swim another event. I was quite active in the YMCA, and the Y did a lot for me,” said Farmer, who joined the board of directors at the Y after returning to Waynesboro to join the leadership team at Mathers, a leading provider of high-quality design, construction and renovation services in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia.

“It means a lot to be able to give back to those who did so much for me growing up, who meant so much to me and my personal growth. It’s a community-service-type thing that feels good to be able to do,” Farmer said of his work at the Y.

Specific to the locker-room renovation, Farmer noted his mother, a Y member, first bringing his attention to the need to do something about the women’s locker-room facilities, then also hearing from his former SMAC swim coach, Erica Hahn.

“Basically they told me that as a member of the board, I needed to see what the Y could do to make the locker room more clean. I don’t think the concern is much about form as about function. They want it clean, and they want it to work well,” Farmer said.

Farmer initiated the project by working on some basic design drawings to show what could be done with cost efficiencies in mind.

“Looking at it, I thought, This is way below the grade that they deserve to have here. You could see how they’d dealt with issues over the years. Bandages on top of bandages on top of bandages. The first bandage was probably a good fix for whatever the issue was at the time, but after a while what they ended up with was something that just wasn’t pulled together as a place anymore,” Farmer said.

A key to the cost efficiencies has been the volunteer efforts not only of people like Farmer but also those who have given their time to do a lot of the dirty work that needed to be done.

“The most pleasant surprise of the whole thing was the volunteers who put their time and effort into this. We’re not talking about easy work. They came down and did the nasty jobs – tearing down the ceiling, taking the lockers apart, demo’ing the old dressing areas. The work that we got out of some of these people was just incredible. That part of the experience was just very, very rewarding for me,” Farmer said.


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