Rotary hears of successful programs offered by the YMCA

Published 5:05 pm Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Suzanne Brandt, CEO of the Bainbridge YMCA, spoke to Bainbridge Rotary this week about the various services offered by the YMCA, beginning with a brief history of how the first Y’s in the nation were founded. It was in the 1800’s after the industrial revolution, when young men were coming to the cities to work. They put in long hours and most were just staying in their shops because of the general unrest and crime in the cities.

Two friends started a small Bible Study group for the young men and it ultimately became the first YMCA. The goal then, as today, was to include those who have been excluded by society. “That is very much what we still do today,” said Brandt.

Many of the elderly in the community come to the Y mid-morning for social reasons as well as physical exercise— some just for a cup of coffee and a listening ear.

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Another section of society being served is at-risk children, who Brandt says are a problem in our community, just as they are in others. “Our Y community comes together to help these kids,” she adds.

She then cited an event a couple of years ago when some of the earlier kids came back home to the Y and sat in one place for a photo. Then each bore witness to what they had overcome thanks to being at the Y.

While showing a video put together by Brandt and some of the young people at the Y, Rotarians learned that 5720 active older adults participated in the Silver Sneakers exercise program last year; 410 children learned to be team players; 500 children learned to swim thanks to lessons offered at the Y; and 110 kids stayed safe and active in after-school and summer day camp programs at the Y.

The local Y is also known for its basketball games, tennis program and their swim team. They even offer childcare while parents exercise.

Brandt pointed out how meaningful it was that a design developed in 1890 is still in force today with the same mission—“Above all love each other deeply.”