YMCA Sault Ste. Marie
Everyone knows the YMCA, you may be thinking. Of course, it is a world renowned organization lauded for 150 years of good works within communities worldwide. But every YMCA is different, is special, and tailored it the needs of the specific community it serves, and there is a lot to discover still about the your “Y”.
Currently there are 45 thriving YMCAs nationwide that offer services meant to uplift its community. In total, nearly 2 million people in more than 250 communities can thank the YMCA for programs that strengthen community ties.
YMCA Sault Ste. Marie exemplifies how the YMCA adapts and adjusts its programming to its community. The YMCA has helped build a strong community and strong families in Sault Ste. Marie for over 100 years, an organization for people of all ages and background, “encouraging and welcoming people to grow in spirit, mind and body.”
The YMCA is a charity dedicated to improving the health, education and social services of communities and community members. The founding principal of the Y is inclusion and accessibility to all, and aims to achieve this by promoting and developing programs that best suit the community.
“We currently have over 6,000 members,” says Brandy Young, Manager of Marketing and Communication. “We also serve another 300 to 400 families that use child care program, and we reach a few thousand.”
A study conducted by the YMCA revealed that the YMCA Sault Ste. Marie reaches over 10 per cent of the community, which is above national average. Part of the reason for this is level of success for the YMCA Sault Ste. Marie is their community hubs program; YMCA facilities located in four of the city’s high-risk neighbourhoods that provide health, fitness and recreation programs, employment skills as well as a new RESP education program.
The RESP program, for instance, is a new partnership with and funded by the federal government. “We are providing workshops to different groups—it’s not just for people that are low income, it is for anybody who seeks awareness of an RESP the Canadian learning bond and savings grant that the government provides,” says Young.
The YMCA’s STTEP program is another proven example of the Y’s social services program, one that has helped lower the city’s unemployment rate below the national average1. Starting Transitions Towards Employment Program (STTEP) is a 17-week program aimed at youth and designed to teach skills vital for entering the workforce.
Most health, recreation and fitness programs are offered in the YMCA’s main facility and will undergo $3 million in necessary repairs and upgrades. The crux of the renovations will be to open and brighten the facility creating a more welcoming environment from the moment one steps in the door. The renovations will continue into the refurbished expanded locker areas and fitness centre, which will offer $400,000 of new equipment.
Funding for the new facility with come from both the federal and provincial governments, which will be providing one-third of the project costs each, with YMCA Sault Ste. Marie covering the remaining cost.
To celebrate the new building, a fundraising ceremony will take place Oct. 27 at Algoma’s Water Tower.
“That will carry us through to a whole weekend of open house where people can come in, see the facility, and try out our programs,” smiles Young.