FLORENCE, Mass. (WWLP) – Florence Bank has pledged $100,000 to Hampshire Regional YMCA to support their $1.5 million Mission Expansion Campaign.

The Mission Expansion Campaign will help expand available program space by developing an outdoor exercise “airnaseum,” which is an open-air gymnasium, according to a news release sent to 22News from Florence Bank.

The YMCA is hoping to break ground on the project in the spring and evolve it over several years, as funds are gathered, and the airnaseum and other improvements will benefit both children and adults.

“Florence Bank has been a longtime supporter of the YMCA,” said Julie Bianco, the CEO of the YMCA. “We really appreciate the bank’s commitment to the community. They always show up when they are needed.”

The campaign leaders are gathering corporate sponsorships in the early phase of the project and have so far pledged $361,000. The pandemic was the main inspiration for the airnaseum project because prior to 2020, the YMCA had been planning capital improvements as member activity had greatly increased over the years.

“We were always looking for space for classes,” Bianco said. “Program space was a valuable commodity.”

People wanted to exercise and socialize, though during the pandemic, so Bianco said the YMCA held classes outdoors in the upper parking lot, which was not in demand because few members were using the building at that time.

The YMCA worked with Berkshire Design Group to research and study options, as well as create the project design, which is approved by the Northampton Zoning Board of Appeals. The outdoor exercise space will be underneath a pavilion outside the gymnasium, where a grouping of picnic tables is now. Equipment containers, called container gyms, will be purchased from Beaver Fit to hold gear for group classes and will be installed at one end of the airnaseum.

Matt Garrity, the president, and CEO of Florence Bank said “At Florence Bank, we like to take care of the community and help where help is needed,” he said. “We were founded in 1873 on the principle of neighbors helping neighbors, and 150 years later, we still see that as our primary mission. We keep our focus on the customers, the community, and our employees.”