The YMCA of Grand Bahama was founded in 1970 in Freeport and has been for many years the only functioning community facility of its kind on the Grand Bahama Island. The YMCA offers a wide range of community services including afterschool programs, sports, swimming, recreation, arts and a rehabilitation center for youth offenders. YMCA programs impact 2,000 people every year.
The YMCA of Grand Bahama suffered significant damage in 2004 following two major hurricanes and closed its doors for nearly two years. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew also damaged the YMCA infrastructure, compromising children and youth safety. With the support of the international community, the YMCA rapidly helped bring a sense of security, restoration and hope by providing a safe place and a meeting point for the community during difficult times.
On September 1, 2019, Hurricane Dorian made landfall in Elbow Cay, Bahamas, after reaching Category 5, with sustained winds of 185 mph. Dorian made another landfall on Grand Bahama several hours later at the same intensity. Initial reports mention devastation on the islands’ infrastructure and at least 50 fatalities.
Dorian Impact on the YMCA of Grand Bahama
On Wednesday September 4, YMCA of the USA established contact with Ms. Karon Pinder Johnson, CEO of the YMCA of Grand Bahama. She reported that all YMCA staff are accounted for and safe. Seventy percent of the Grand Bahama island was covered in water. There is no power or running water across the island. The YMCA is flooded, 75% of the roof is damaged, all five pool pumps and three heat pumps (AC) are lost due to flooding, treadmills and elliptical machines are underwater, office furniture is wet, perimeter fencing is down and the dugouts for the soccer and baseball fields were destroyed. Fortunately, the main building is still standing.
Karon and her team will meet on September 5, 2019 to start the clean-up, remove debris, gunk and roofing tiles, and discuss a plan of action. The team is assessing converting the basketball gym into a shelter for displaced families and allow community members to drop-in, shower and rest at the YMCA. They also anticipate that they will have the capacity to accept in-kind donations (canned food, water, clothes, first-aid kits, blankets, flashlights, batteries, etc.). YMCA Bahamas will not have the capacity to pay for shipping costs. The government will allow importing these types of items duty-free for 30 days.
How to Help
Financial contributions are the most effective way to help at this time. YMCA of the USA will officially launch a World Service appeal in coordination with the Latin American and Caribbean Alliance of YMCAs and the World Alliance of YMCAs as soon as a plan of action is in place. In the meantime, donations are being gratefully accepted and 100% of your support will be sent to the YMCA of Grand Bahama.
How to give:
Online: Please write YMCA Bahamas in the Comments/Special Instructions box
Mail : Please write YMCA Bahamas in the Comments/Special Instructions box
Phone: Call 312-419-8177
For additional information, please contact Renata Ferrari at [email protected] and 312-419-8137.