2013-08-02 / Columnists


Rockaway Q&A with YMCA CEO
By Jack Lund, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York

With the opening of the Rockaways Y fast approaching, we thought we’d check in with the community to answer some questions about the new branch. Each of these queries came directly from you, our fellow community members and Rockaways neighbors. We were, quite frankly, amazed by the levels of enthusiasm we experienced over Facebook and Twitter, and are happy to answer your questions in this column!

Before we get into the questions, here’s a quick construction update on the new Y. The windows are being installed, the roof is complete, mechanical and electrical work is ongoing, sheet rock is being put up and the store front is taking shape.

Now to the questions -

Q: When is the Rockaways YMCA scheduled to open?

A: We plan on opening the Rockaways Y branch in mid- to late fall. It has been alongside our fellow business owners and Rockaways residents who have been resilient in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and the Y is more committed than ever to being a part of your community.

Q: How much will it cost to become a member?

A: Membership fees at each of our Y branches reflect the neighborhoods in which we serve. That said, the YMCA prides itself on welcoming everyone in the community, regardless of socioeconomic factors, and we offer financial assistance to ensure no one is ever turned away due to an inability to pay. We have yet to set the membership rate for the new Rockaways Y at Arverne-by-the-Sea. The Strong Kids Campaign, our annual fundraising drive, raises money to ensure that every single young person in the city has the opportunity to learn, grow, andthriveataYintheirneighborhood.

Q: What afterschool programming will the Rockaways Y offer? Will the Rockaways Y provide any childcare services?

A: We currently provide afterschool programs to the students at P.S. 197 and the Village Academy, and will look to develop a program portfolio that further addresses community needs. The new facility will have a “childwatch” program so parents can leave their children in good hands while they exercise, along with afterschool programs, and summer camps for children.

Q: When will the Rockaways Y start the hiring process for its staff?

A: We’ve begun the search process for the new branch’s Executive Director and will also begin looking for other staff members as the opening date gets closer. The Y also continues to be one of the City’s leaders in youth employment. The YMCA of Greater New York currently employs more than 1,800 youth between the ages of 14 and 24, working mostly in citywide camps and after school programs. But more than just offering jobs, the Y provides an entryway to youth worker training, putting our kids on the path to becoming tomorrow’s teachers and social workers. To learn more about opportunities available at the Y, you can visit our careers page – www.ymcanyc.org/careers

Q: Will there be a triathlon training team?

A: In addition to our range of programs for youth development, the YMCA of Greater New York offers a number of fitness services and training programs for adults, including Zumba, Pilates, swimming lessons, basketball teams and many more. The programming at each Y branch is tailored to the needs of the community it serves. While we are still determining the exact classes and programs the Rockaways branch will offer, we are open to new ideas and will make it a priority to meet the neighborhood’s needs. If there is a demand for, say, a salsa class, we will work to accommodate it!

Q: How can I help the Y? What is the process for joining the Board?

A: We love the enthusiasm! There are a number of ways to support the YMCA of Greater New York, including contributing to the Strong Kids Campaign or the Next Century Capital Campaign (which funds major construction projects like the Rockaways Y), or becoming a Y Champion by becoming an online fundraiser.

We are in the process of hiring the right branch leadership to help rally the community around the new Y. Once an executive director is hired, we’ll start the process of building a strong branch board and establishing a volunteer base.

Q: Who is overseeing the construction of the Rockaways/Coney Island locations? How can community members get involved?

A: We are working with Benjamin Beechwood on the construction of the Rockaways branch. While the construction process itself and the work of licensed contractors isn’t the place for volunteers, we certainly will need helping hands once the Rockaways branch opens. There are a number of volunteer opportunities at the Y, including becoming a youth mentor or sports coach, being a fundraiser, helping with branch maintenance or landscaping, or planning a special community event.

As we near our grand opening this fall, we’re eager to hear from you! Please be encouraged to reach out to us via our Facebook (facebook.com/ymcanyc) and Twitter (@ymcanyc) pages. We look forward to serving you!

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