Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Central YMCA in San Francisco Closes After 99 Years

Christine and I have been serving on the Shih Yu-Lang Central YMCA's Board of Managers since 2005. This YMCA is different than the YMCA that was in my hometown of Northbrook, IL, a suburb of Chicago, which primarily provided a fitness facility and youth summer camps. The Central YMCA is located in the heart of the Tenderloin in San Francisco, which is its poorest district. It provided health and fitness facilities like most YMCAs, but more importantly to us it provided youth programs for at-risk children and effective programs for seniors in the area. This Y also provided a stable element in a neighborhood where instability and chaos was the norm.

Tonight I attended an event honoring the 99 years of this location's existence and the closing of this facility. It's amazing to hear and listen to the stories of this Y's impact on its members and the community. People that have been attending for decades with loyalty, youth who found refuge in its walls, and the support and care that was provided over the past years. This chapter of history is closed.

The building will be converted into an affordable housing complex for homeless and low-income residents. The youth and senior programs will continue and all fitness members will be able to continue their membership at any other YMCA in San Francisco.

During this transitional period, we will be seeking to build a new facility in the Tenderloin. It's early so there is a lot more work do to before any real progress is stated, but our parent organization, the YMCA of San Francisco, has committed to building a new Y in the Tenderloin with us.

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