Garner Cleveland Record

New YMCA of Garner leader wants to continue what Oliver started

Bruce Murray
Bruce Murray courtesy of Bruce Murray

Bruce Murray, the new executive director the YMCA of Garner and Johnston County, said he came to Garner because of the opportunity.

He saw the chance to bring the town its first facility and one that had “strong programming, good community involvement, great volunteer leadership.”

“All those things having already been in place, and then add the opportunity to bring a building to the community there are very few opportunities to get that chance as a Y Director to be a part of that,” Murray said.

He said he also liked the small town feel. He and his family will soon relocate to Garner.

Murray replaced former executive director Melissa Oliver. He started on Nov. 2. As branch director, Murray will handle the day-to-day logistics, oversee staff and the programs and raise money for capital campaigns.

A Chapel Hill native, Murray has spent his entire career with the YMCA, spanning more than 20 years. He was previously senior associate executive director in Chapel Hill. He also spent some time with the Chatham County YMCA.

Oliver recently accepted a position in the coroporate office. Her new role is vice president of financial development for the YMCA of the Triangle. She is credited for leading the way to make a YMCA facility in Garner possible.

The YMCA of Garner announced in May it would build the Poole Family YMCA in Garner on Aversboro Road, adjacent to White Deer Park.

Murray said his goals are to make sure the facility gets built and to continue the programs the YMCA runs now and to expand them in Garner and Johnston County.

Oliver has previously said she will continue to help out with raising the money for the facility.

“Melissa is not going anywhere,” Murray said. “She wants to see things through and she is leading the charge for the campaign as well as the capital campaign. So she’ll work side by side with all of us to make sure those things get done.”

The YMCA had raised about $5.5 million in its quiet phase and has now entered its public phase.

So far the total is up to about $5.9 million and the goal is to get to $7 million by the end of December.

“With the help of the quiet phase, they are still working on some major gifts, so that’ll help get to the finish line,” Kim Woodard, director of administrative services. “We’re still meeting with the quiet phase group and the public phase group, so everyone is working together.”

Murray said he is confident they can raise the money for the facility.

“I think there is a lot of potential out there. I think there are still some unknown things,” Murray said. “People don’t know exactly, what does it mean to have a facility here. So the more they learn, the more they find out what it will include I think they will be more on board to try to get to that $7 million goal.

The facility will have a 4,500-square-foot wellness center, locker rooms, a nursery and children’s adventure area, an outdoor aquatics center, indoor track, a gymnasium and group exercise studio and the capacity to serve 5,000 members from the Garner community.

Construction is expected to start in the beginning of 2016, if the YMCA can raise the rest of the money.

YMCA of Johnston County

Woodard said some of the biggest challenges with the YMCA of Johnston County is that the coverage is so spread out. Areas like the Cleveland community tend not be served.

“It’s a huge county,” she said. “Most of our programs are in Clayton. That’s definitely a challenge, how to reach other areas in Johnston County. But that is something we would like to do.”

Murray said the plan is to collaborate with schools and recreational departments in those areas that are under-served.

“There is a lot of opportunity and we have a fantastic staff that wants to see that growth and are more than capable of doing it,” Murray said. “We just have to spread the word of what the YMCA does.”

Jonathan M. Alexander: 919-829-4822, @GarnerCleveland