INDEPENDENCE — The new branch director at Monmouth-Independence YMCA is a familiar face. Natascha Cronin officially left her job at Ash Creek Animal Clinic and took the helm at the Y on June 1. The career switch felt more like getting her career back on track, she said. “My former life I worked for OMSI and ran Hancock Field Station, an outdoor school in Eastern Oregon,” Cronin said. “That’s my passion. That’s what I love to do.” Cronin, who recently traveled to Denver as part of the city of Independence’s delegation to the All-America City’s conference, is actively involved in the community. “Having a job that requires (being active in the community) is a perfect fit,” Cronin said. She has quite a few changes in the works for the local YMCA. “Our child care program is going to become more of an extension of the school day instead of a baby-sitting service,” Cronin said. A “healthy minds, healthy bodies” campaign will be launched this summer. Part of that is a YMCA book club. “We’re working with local organizations so that anytime a child comes to the Y, they get to go home with a book,” Cronin said. “We have a lot of kids who come in while mom or dad are working out and read books while they wait. We want them to be able to take that book home with them.” For that, the Y is accepting donations of children’s books, she added. The community swimming pool is open now, and more adult fitness classes will be added as participation increases, Cronin said. She has plans for a special series during the “Dog Days of Summer,” starting in late August and running through early September. “They can bring their dogs with them (to class),” Cronin explained. It won’t be doggy yoga or ballet, though. More likely those classes where dogs are invited to accompany owners will include running or obstacle courses. The club is moving toward a membership base, which will allow members to also use the Y in Salem, Cronin said. But until then, class prices vary depending on which class one attends. The youth programs are also up and running, Cronin said. “We still have spots for basketball camp, cheerleading camp, gymnastics camp, and then we also have our dance classes here, ranging from ballet to hip-hop to West African dance,” she said. “Those dance classes are also available for adults.” Cronin hopes to work with other programs that offer youth sports. “My goal as the new branch director is to start working on partnerships, with everyone coming to the table to figure out how to support each other instead of competing against each other,” she said. Cronin said the Y will be out and about participating in local events, including the Fourth of July Grand Parade and the Hop and Heritage Festival. Cronin said the staff has been all-in, pitching new ideas and running with it. “I think you’ll see us around town a little bit more than you have in the past,” she added. The Y is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with classes starting as early as 5:30 a.m. and going as late as 7:30 p.m. For more information: Monmouth-Independence YMCA, 503-838-4042; or find the group on Facebook.