New kid digs

David Warfe

So, there’s plenty of room for arts and crafts, playing pool, rock climbing practice and basketball at the new $2 million Link Piazzo Youth Center in Reno. The center opens with a flourish, tours and a barbecue 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at 1300 Foster Drive, right across from Reno High School. The center, named for the longtime Reno philanthropist Link Piazzo who donated $1 million to the project, gives the YMCA of the Sierra staff the ability to serve an additional 8,500 young people in the Truckee Meadows, says David Warfe, YMCA of the Sierra president/CEO. Warfe beamed with pride as he toured the new facility Tuesday, pointing out the two floor-to-ceiling erasable marker boards on which kids can create their own graffiti and proudly noting where plants and an 80-gallon aquarium would be placed.

What sparked the youth center project?

We have for some years wanted to get kids out of the basement in [the older] building. There are no windows, no air conditioning. We bantered around and came up with ideas. Link [Piazzo] has been coming to the YMCA since 1928. As a kid, he’d come in with his buddies.

Describe Mr. Piazzo.

He’s one of the community’s most valuable assets. He deeply cares about the community and about kids. He is really a tremendous person.

Tell me about the center.

It’s going to be so much more convenient for parents to drop off their kids at a reception area. Kids will move into Activity Room A or B—or into the gym. There’s a rotunda area to serve as a holding area for kids during sports events or practices.

How many kids are here on any given day in the summer ?

With all the specialty camps, we’re dealing with 300 or so. And that’s just in Reno. In Sparks, there are another 175 to 200.

Is demand for this kind of reliable kids’ care increasing?

Yes. We’re still flexible enough to meet those needs. There are a lot more requests for assistance. It’s our policy that we never turn a kid away for lack of funds.

What should parents know about theYMCA?

They can bring their kid here to be safe and properly taken care of. Our four core values are caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. We build those values into all of our programming.

What age would you say your programs are geared to?

We touch more kids because of our variety of programs for infants through kindergarten, then through middle school with our after-school and outreach programs. We kiddingly say we’re a “cradle-to-grave” operation. We have some seniors who are incredible.

I’ll bet.

They’ve built quite a family. If you don’t show up for one of their activities, like a swim class, they’ll be on the phone, checking you out, seeing if you’re OK. It’s a social club for them.

You seem pleased with this project.

It’s quite a move up from the basement.