A New YMCA: A Stronger Community
The success of the YMCA is indisputable. One only need look around the communities of Grand Bahama to see the success stories. Many of our business owners and executives, doctors, lawyers, engineers and Members of Parliament are products of the YMCA. Indeed the YMCA has been a significant factor in the development of the people who are building the Bahamas today.
The YMCA structure, as we previously knew it, was built in 1970, some 34 years ago, when Freeport was still very much in its infantile stage of development. Like our present effort, it was a project owned by the community. Operating with the same mission that defines it’s purpose today, the YMCA of yesteryear served a community of individuals who came to take part in, and benefit from, the vision that Sir Jack Hayward created. It was a YMCA that was largely and generously supported by the corporate citizens and civic groups of Freeport. It was a YMCA that benefited from strong alliances with neighboring YMCAs. Most importantly, it was a YMCA that was the ONLY option for children, teens and adults alike for recreation and physical activity. It was ground zero for the majority of team sports that were played on the island; creating multitudes of local sports heroes and aficionados.
The infamous hurricanes of 2004, Frances and Jeanne, ushered in the complete destruction of the YMCA as we knew it. But with this destruction comes opportunity…
We now have the opportunity to build and improve on the wonderful legacy of the past.
- Today’s YMCA meets the challenge of bringing 400-500 children a day through the learn to swim program
- Today’s YMCA rises to the challenge of operating in a community plagued by unemployment and increasing criminal activity and other social ills, involving otherwise idle young men and women in positive physical and character building activity
- Today’s YMCA operates in a community that has more than quadrupled in size since it’s doors originally opened. A community that is increasingly diverse not only culturally, but in hobbies and interests.
- Today’s YMCA operates in a facility that is physically incapable in terms of size and layout of adequately serving the needs of this growing community
The possibilities are endless for the future of the YMCA. Time and time again it has been proven that participation in sports cultivates the development of character, teamplay and leadership skills; and produces positive and contributing citizens.
All of the components for the future success of the YMCA are present:
- Need- the Grand Bahama community is in dire need of a community centre that is accessible to all, not only in cost, but perspective. As the community continues to grow, this need will only intensify.
- Space-more than 50% of the YMCA’s allocated plot of land sits as an untouched pine barren. We have room to grow and expand into a facility that will properly serve Grand Bahama for generations to come.
- Vision- with a strong executive board in place; a board that is credible and committed, but that also has a vested interest in seeing the YMCA’s success continue, the future is bright. Funneling this team’s enthusiasm into this project, and allowing this enthusiasm to spread throughout the Grand Bahama community will revive the feeling of widespread confidence that is so important to its success.
…..and where there is vision, there is support….
The need for a facility that meets the needs of this ever growing, culturally diverse community is obvious. The overall vision for the new YMCA is to build a facility that attracts a broad spectrum of the community through its programs and amenities. To create a community centre that will once again become ground zero for sports and recreation throughout the island. A YMCA that can continue to be relied upon as a safe haven for children, as well as a significant contributor to their development into law abiding, productive citizens. A facility where the development of culture and intellect is central to its operation. A multi-purpose building that is built with enough elevation and roof strength to fulfill the specific capability of serving as a much needed hurricane shelter. A YMCA that will become the venue of choice for schools, churches, civic groups and corporations when they look to hold positive, uplifting events for the betterment of mankind.