For some, January is all about getting back on track after a gluttonous holiday season and resolutions could be focused on getting in better shape, eating well or jumping into new hobbies. The Richmond Hill YMCA offers a few health-minded programs to help people meet their goals.
Through its many health and fitness programs, the Richmond Hill YMCA Executive Director Mary Arocha said the organization is a proud supporter of the local community and is thankful in return for the support of the members and volunteers that help make it the community hub it has become since opening in November 2009.
“The people, the members that come here, are the best asset of our YMCA,” Arocha said. “It is like the Y has really given (people) a community place to gather. There are tons of people who have made friendships and workout partners in this community — but when they come here, it gives them a hub and a sense of belonging. It gives them a center, a place to come together.”
In the four years it has been open, the Y has seen exponential growth — starting with only about 50 member “units” (individuals or families), it has since grown to more than 1,000.
The biggest need the YMCA has now is for more space, Arocha said.
“We have plans to expand — that is always the goal of any YMCA,” she said. “We are hoping to expand in the next six months to a year, when the time is right both for the economy and our fundraising.
“Building a big YMCA just like the other counties comes from the desire to meet the needs of our community and the overwhelming support of our members, board of directors and local community supporters,” she continued. “We have a variety of partnerships right now that we can use for the extra space, but we really want to have a big facility for families to get active together. To be a central hub for families to have resources for nutrition and get involved in healthy activities together.”
In addition to membership, the programming has expanded as well. The YMCA now offers youth sports through 14 years old and there are more than 60 free fitness classes each week.
It isn’t just about the programming and growth, though. As the YMCA is a charitable organization, the center is able to offer subsidies and special programs to those most in need.
“Our scholarship stories include swim lessons for special needs children, daycare subsidies for families looking for work and getting back on their feet after losing a job and helping families in many other ways, too,” Arocha said. “We’ve been able to give $60,000 in services and programs back to the Richmond Hill community. It doesn’t go into some big pot — all of the work we do is right here in our area.”
Getting involved in the YMCA is as simple as joining to be a member or volunteering in any of the fun, family-oriented programming. There are special initiatives available starting in January to help jump start nutrition and fitness regimens, as well as a promotion waiving the joining fee for all new members in January.
“We want people to have healthier lifestyles,” Arocha said. “If we can get them in the door and keep them exercising after that 30-day mark, they are more likely to keep coming back and make real changes.
“This year we are focused on incorporating health and fitness for the whole family,” she continued. “Especially for childhood obesity, the work starts at home with the family. We want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to learn more about nutrition and healthy activities even when they aren’t athletically inclined.”