COUNCIL BLUFFS — Like many grandparents, Dick and Deanna Miller of Council Bluffs wanted to do something that would benefit their eight grandchildren.
What the couple settled on — a $100,000 gift to the Council Bluffs Y — will benefit not only their grandchildren but also thousands of other youngsters in the Council Bluffs area.
Dick Miller, a retired Council Bluffs pharmacist, called the current Y facility on Fourth Street his “second home.” He exercises and plays basketball there regularly.
He and his wife have long been active in the community, including with a number of youth-oriented organizations.
Deanna Miller said all of their grandchildren are heavily involved in sports, and the couple's gift to the Y was a natural outgrowth of their desire for more children to have the opportunity to be actively involved.
“The Y is the only physical fitness facility that encourages any age to use the facility,” Dick Miller said. His family's donation will, among other things, help ensure that every member of the Boys and Girls Club of Council Bluffs will have a pass to use the Y's facilities.
Dick Miller said the family area in the new, larger Y facility proposed to be built near Mercy Hospital will allow grandparents and parents to enjoy recreational activities, too.
“There will be things that parents and grandparents and kids can do together,” he said. “We want to have an area where kids can move their arms and legs and develop physical skills. Grandparents are wonderful teachers because they are so patient.”
The new Y is to be 73,000 square feet, nearly double the size of the current facility.
In early June, the Charles E. Lakin Foundation and the Iowa West Foundation announced a joint $7 million grant — $3.5 million from each foundation — to serve as the catalyst for fundraising. Len Romano, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Omaha, estimated that the fund drive will take a year to complete.
Leo McIntosh, group vice president for the Council Bluffs/Mills County/South YMCA, said the family room will be named the Dick and Deanna Miller Family Zone. He said it will be outfitted with exercise equipment that is suitable for children ages 10 to 14 as well as games to help youngsters develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
“The Millers' donation will help create not just a room but an opportunity for grandparents to recreate with their grandkids,” Romano said. “Physical activity has to be age appropriate and body appropriate. The plan does not include strength training equipment for kids.
“Our country is facing an epidemic of obesity. We think moving around and activity is a key to addressing that issue, beginning at a young age. We want to encourage kids to have fun by moving around — running, jumping, swimming.”
Dick Miller said the family room will be one of the largest in the new Y.