Steve Barnas speaks to Farragut Rotarians.

It is a YMCA in a community and it’s a community in a YMCA. That would be the Davis Family Y, which sits tucked away in the middle of subdivisions and farmland on South Northshore Drive east of where Choto Road crosses Northshore. This Y is, to put it mildly, a busy place, seven days a week.

Pam Williams is the executive director of the Davis Y, which will celebrate its eighth anniversary in January. She began as a part-time front-desk employee in 2004 (at another Y) and today runs an operation with 50 employees and 8,000 members. Yes – 8,000-plus members and growing.

Why is there a community inside this YMCA? This is more than your average Y with workout machines and exercise bikes and treadmills and a pool and spin classes. Much more.

Last Wednesday Steve Barnas, Davis Family Y’s program director, spoke to the Rotary Club of Farragut about the Y. Here’s how he described it: “We’re more than just a gym. We’re all about the health of the community. We’re in the community.”

Yes, the things you expect to find at a Y are there. Swim lessons, water aerobics, yoga, people lifting weights and getting their workouts in, some using personal trainers. But what else is there speaks legions about this sense of community.

**Three days a week 20 people learn and play bridge.

Alzheimer’s patients learn line dancing three days a week. “The feet keeping up with the mind is great therapy for them,” Williams says.

Three days a week a group of dedicated players enjoy Mah-jongg, the Chinese card game.

The community hydroponic garden (no dirt) has been there for five years. This year the Y donated 5,500 pounds of produce to local food banks. They also have five hens that supply compost and produce eggs daily. The farming operation is maintained by staff and volunteers with community workdays in the garden.

A Master Gardener comes in monthly to teach seasonal classes.

The Davis Y has a pair of programs dealing with chronic disease – “Pedal for Parkinson’s” to help clients with strength, balance and flexibility, and “Live Strong” for cancer patients. It is a 12-week program, twice a week. The cancer patients are given three months of free workouts with a personal trainer to get back in shape after surgery and treatments.

The Y also offers mentoring classes for young people 12 to 17 to help them make better choices.

And there are after-school child care programs, day camps for children in the summer, and youth sports and soccer behind the Y on Sundays with 100 kids playing.

If you would like information about membership or program offerings, call Steve Barnas at 865-777-9622 or email him at sbarnas@ymcaknoxville.org.

“This is our community and we want people in our community to be healthy and well. We’re here to help them however we can and whenever we can,” Williams said.

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Written by Tom King