For the past seven years as the chairwoman of its board of directors, Cynthia Murphy has been at the helm of the Wood River Community YMCA's efforts to bring increased educational and recreational opportunities to the Wood River Valley, including a major new facility currently under construction in Ketchum.
In recognition of her efforts, the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau has named Murphy its 2006 Citizen of the Year.
"I was overwhelmed," Murphy, 53, said. "There are so many people in the community that do so many amazing things. I look at this as really going to the entire Y organization."
After the completion of its new facility, the YMCA's organization in the valley will include 10 full-time staff, 100 part-time staff and more than 100 local volunteers comprising various committees throughout the valley.
The YMCA is a nonprofit endeavor and the foundation of the organization lies in its volunteers—the local citizens who devote their time and energy to ensuring the 163-year tradition of the Y continues.
"One of the best parts of my job is working with such great volunteers," Murphy said. "The strength of a volunteer comes from providing for the whole community—in doing so they improve the community and that person is enhanced as well."
One of the YMCA's greatest strengths, and a benefit that can be attributed directly to it volunteer-base, is its ability to overcome socioeconomic confines and to focus solely on providing a healthy environment for the community, Murphy said.
"Membership fees at the Y are income-based on a sliding fee scale that could potentially go as low as one dollar," Murphy said. "When someone comes in, they hear our rates and then we ask if that is comfortable for them. If they don't have the one dollar, that's OK, too. This Y really has been created by the community and no one is ever turned away on their ability to pay.
"One of the most important things we can do in the community is help to break down barriers in the community. Once you walk in with your gym shorts, everyone is on the same level."
The construction of the new YMCA in Ketchum is moving along smoothly and "we have such a great team ready to open it," Murphy said.
Interested Y enthusiasts can take "Hardhat Tours" every Friday at 10 a.m., Murphy said. Locals can watch the progress of the new facility right up until its planned completion in November.
In addition to its many recreation opportunities, the YMCA's flexibility lies in the diversity of its programs, which provide everything from teen-driven enterprises—including documentary film programs and Y-Rock climbing classes—to providing meeting spaces, and yoga and Pilates classes for adults.
The new Y will feature a Lee Pesky Learning Center to help serve children and adults with learning disabilities. And it will also offer Gilda's Club, named after Saturday Night Live star Gilda Radner who became an icon for cancer awareness before her death at age 42.
Also, Murphy said, "what the community is lacking is a place to gather." She hopes the new Fireside Lounge, among other areas at the new YMCA, will serve that need.
Although Murphy is proud of every program run the Y runs, Y-on-Wheels is one she is particularly found of. The program sends a van into the community to provide a healthy, creative and active safe-haven for children during after-school hours, Murphy said.
The journey undergone by Murphy and the entire YMCA organization has been a long but very worthwhile experience, she said.
"Determining the needs of the community and providing the flexibility necessary to change along with it is difficult," Murphy said. "But to bring something to fruition is a rewarding process."
For more information on the YMCA's community-based programs, visit www.woodriverymca.org.