Patrick B. McGuigan, Publisher, The City Sentinel
Oklahoma City – Like the rest of Oklahoma, the Santa Fe Family Life Center is carefully returning to regular operations as spring transitions into summer.
The facility closed when the governor of the state and mayor of Oklahoma City asked for publicly-accessible facilities to shutter for a time.
After a carefully-structured and limited reopening during the month of May, the facility anticipates a more robust June and July.
In an interview with The City Sentinel newspaper during the phased reopening, executive director James Timberlake said he was happy with the multi-week plan that began in early May.
Each day members were asked to choose a particular workout or court time, to assure limited numbers in each part of the facility. Requirements for advanced online “sign-ins” were phased out this past week with a return to come-and-go activity for members and guests.
Timberlake said, in a May 24 interview, “Social distancing requirements and reduced capacity rules are still in place. We will continue to monitor recommendations from city and state health officials and adjust operations accordingly.”
He expressed thanks “to all members, guests, patrons, and staff for helping to ensure a safe and successful reopening” over a two-week period.
Timberlake continued, “We’re doing everything we can to assure a safe environment. We have a good plan in place. I am confident about keeping staff and patrons safe, and minimizing any chances of getting or transferring the virus.”
The tempo of basketball will pick up from June 1 on, and summer pool memberships are available for a June 1 opening.
Timberlake said, “We feel like this restart has gone well. We have had good responses from our members, and people say they are excited to be back for their workouts and routines. There is always some risk in managing a fitness center. But May has gone well, and we are happy to be back at our work. We hope soon to safely resume more and more of our charitable programs and youth sports programs. It has been nice for the staff, for all of us, to see our members and patrons.
“The people who are coming in are excited, and we all know it’s going to take awhile for some people to get used to getting out.”
Keeping Busy During the Closure
Santa Fe staff stayed busy throughout the temporary closing. To benefit (and in partnership with) Saint Anthony Hospital, the staff converted the basketball courts into a small-scale assembly operation.
Timberlake told supporters and members about the project in a memorandum, saying the fitness center staff deiced to focus on “the shortage of personal protective equipment for medical workers. … Continuing our partnership with SSM-St. Anthony’s Hospital, we turned a couple of our basketball courts into a factory for face shields and masks. The space that would normally be occupied by wheelchair and adaptive sports, after school programs, and youth basketball provides plenty of room to make the protective equipment.
“This project has provided a positive program amid all the chaos, and valuable protective equipment to our doctors and nurses who put themselves at risk to keep us safe.”
Looking for Support to Sustain Programs
The temporary closure, expanded protective measures and steps to get back in the fitness cycle required with the reopening have made donor support for the Santa Fe Family Life Center “more important than ever,” Timberlake said.
The SFFLC’s 2020 fundraising campaign launched in May, with regular contributors told that the annual fundraising event would be delayed until 2021.
Meanwhile, supporters are asked to renew support for SFFLC’s charitable programs, including adaptive sports, disadvantaged youth sports and scholarship memberships.
Individual donations are, for a limited time, being matched at 100%, doubling the impact of each contribution.
Donation can be completed at sfflc.com/donate, on SFFLC’s Facebook page under Fundraisers or by mailing a check to SFFLC, Attn: James Timberlake, 6300 N. Santa Fe Ave, OKC, OK 73118.