Roberto Aguirre took over as the YMCA of Arlington’s new chief executive officer two months ago, and he hasn’t been sitting around.Aguirre, who was hired after working for five years in Abilene, said changes are coming this month that he hopes will boost family participation in sports and other activities at the agency’s three branches.“We want a difference in how we sell memberships to make them accessible to the entire family,” he said. “We don’t just want the 6-year-old to come in for sports, and we don’t want just Mom to come in for aerobics. We want everyone to come in.”Aguirre said he wants to change the perception of the YMCA as a gym. Plans call for renaming the branches as family centers, he said.The organization will announce changes to the membership structure March 18 and will offer a Super Summer Sign-up Day on March 23.In another change, members won’t have to pay fees for participating in sports activities, as that will be included in the membership costs, he said.When Aguirre was in Abilene, membership quadrupled in four years, and he has ambitious plans for Arlington as well.The strategic plan for Arlington calls for membership to increase by 5 to 10 percent in the next year.Aguirre, who grew up in Mexico, said he hadn’t heard of the YMCA until he came to the United States, and he wants to reach out to Hispanics and other under-served communities.While in Abilene, the membership grew from 2,150 to 8,250 in past five years. Membership among Hispanics increased to 27 percent from 15 percent.The Arlington YMCA also serves Mansfield, Pantego and Dalworthington Gardens.The YMCA of Arlington, with its $7 million budget, serves 17,500 children in child care and 13,000 children in youth sports, has 58,000 members and 31,000 program participants, and distributes over $400,000 in financial aid to allow youths to participate in YMCA programs.
Elizabeth Campbell, 817-390-7696 Twitter: @fwstliz