This week’s Vicksburg Post Volunteer of the Week is Ken Rector, who volunteered during the Purks-Golding YMCA expansion project. The Purks-Golding YMCA was in the process of expanding its facility beginning in 2018. Rector, during, this project aided in determining community needs, fundraising for the facility and overseeing the construction work. Raised in Colombus, Miss., Rector began a private practice in Vicksburg after earning his Juris Doctorate from the University of Mississippi. In 1988, he worked for the Chicago, Ill. firm of Defrees and Fiske and by 1990 became a partner. In 1993, he moved back to Vicksburg and joined the Wheeless, Shappley, Bailess & Rector firm, which is now Bailess & Rector, LLP.
How did you hear about the YMCA needing help for its expansion project?
I have served on the YMCA Board of Directors and Executive Committee for a number of years. I was also President of the YMCA Board of Directors for the calendar years 2017 and 2018. Prior to 2017, I served as Chairman of the Long Range Planning Committee. As a result of this involvement, I was very aware, like all of our Board members, that our current YMCA facility was becoming rapidly inadequate to serve growing membership and new programming. Our YMCA has 1,598 membership units representing 4,036 active members who use our facility, plus many more non-members who participate in our programs. Obviously, this is a large segment of our community being served by one organization. No other organization in Vicksburg provides the scope of services and programming to this extent. All of our board members knew prior to the inception of this project that we needed this physical expansion to continue to fulfill our special role in this community.
What is your favorite memory while volunteering for this project?
Actually, I have two favorite memories. First, it was most gratifying to have the full and complete support of our Board of Directors. This project took several years through conception, fundraising, planning/design and the actual construction. Throughout all those years, each time that we asked for the Board’s approval of any aspect of the project, we received their unanimous support. Secondly, the fact that we raised $4.6 million from people here in Vicksburg and Warren County is overwhelmingly gratifying. Relatively speaking, this is a very small community. I doubt that there are many other communities, if any, in this state where this could have been accomplished. The unswerving support, financial and otherwise, from the people of Vicksburg and Warren County will always be something that we will never forget.
What was the most challenging part of this project?
Building construction is always challenging, and we were constructing this project during a pandemic. Thankfully, we were able to get it complete before supply chain shortages became significant. We had no significant problems in the development and construction of this project, thanks largely to our outstanding general contractor. If we had a challenge, I believe it was concern over the project being shut down due to COVID, but that never occurred.
What were your tasks while volunteering for the expansion project?
This is difficult to answer. In summary, I attempted to assist Philip Doiron, our Executive Director, in the day-to-day decisions relating to the planning, design, funding and construction of the project. The Board wanted to build a second gymnasium, a new space for group fitness and for day campers, and a new adult wellness/fitness center. In general, it was our job to make sure that these goals and objectives of the Board of Directors were carried out in getting the project funded, designed and built. Personally, I felt a particular responsibility, not only to the Board but to the people who donated $4.6 million. I attempted, along with (Doiron), to ensure that those dollars were not wasted and that we delivered a product that would please these donors and fulfilled all the Board’s objectives.
What have you learned from volunteering during this project?
I have learned that Vicksburg people love and cherish the YMCA and, as a result, those of us involved with this organization have a heavy responsibility to preserve, protect and grow this organization for the benefit of our entire community. In the course of the several years that elapsed between the conception and completion of this project, I asked literally hundreds of people to donate time and talents to this project. I never received a negative response. I deem this my greatest reward as a result of being involved in this project.
Any additional comments?
If you are not a member of the Vicksburg YMCA, you are missing a real opportunity for you and your family that is not available in a vast majority of other communities in this state. Many people think that the YMCA only offers programming for children and adolescents. This is a gross misconception. The Vicksburg YMCA offers extensive health, fitness and other programming for adults and seniors in these newly expanded facilities. We have financial assistance programs for those who cannot otherwise afford to participate in YMCA programs. We want everyone to have an opportunity for a better quality of life through the Vicksburg YMCA.
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