The Y works side-by-side with our neighbors every day to make sure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.
Here are a few ways the YMCA has opened its doors to help build a stronger community.
Summer Lunch and Fun Program keeps Kids Healthy
Many parents rely on a school lunch program during the school year to feed their children, but what happens during the summer? Through our partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a $30,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation, the YMCA will provide food for children of low income families, ages 18 and younger. The YMCA Express at Gainsboro and Kirk Family YMCA will be open sites for kids to come for healthy meals and snacks during the summer. Starting in June, we can feed up to 50 children at those two sites each day. This summer, we’re also serving more than 60,000 meals to the kids in our summer camp programs. That’s how the Y is making healthy, happy kids who can stay on the path to a brighter future.
There’s a lot that teens can discover during the summer months, and the Y is here to make sure they are engaging in safe and healthy activities that will help them learn, grow and thrive. Through our summer food program The YMCA Express at Gainsboro was able to partner with The Gainsboro Library, The CAFE, Goodwill Industries of the Valley and The N Zone to provide open lunch sites to youth in Northwest Roanoke. We served over 1,800 lunches over the 2014 summer months.
The YMCA Express at Gainsboro offers P.E. to Lucy Addison
The Roanoke City High School students can earn ½ a PE credit toward graduation for completing the YMCA Teen Fitness Program and participating in 70 hours of physical activity over a 3 month period at the Y. The program is offered as youth development for students at Lucy Addison High School and Alternative School students including Patrick Henry, William Fleming, Forest Park, and Noel C. Taylor Students.
In the Y’s collaborations, there is sharing of both information and resources as well as having a shared vision. The goal is to bring individuals and members of communities, agencies, and organizations together in an atmosphere of support to systematically solve existing and emerging problems that could not easily be solved by one group alone. Thus our collaborative efforts are shared with agencies and organizations listed below.
1. New Horizons Healthcare
2. Goodwill Industries of the Valley
- Good Guides Mentoring Program
3. Roanoke City Public Schools
- Lucy Addison Middle School
- Noel C Taylor
- Forest Park Academy
4. The Gainsboro Library
5. The N Zone
6. The CAFÉ (Cultural Arts for Excellence)
7. The Advancement Foundation
- Americorps Program
AmeriCorps VISTA was founded in 1965 as a national service program to fight poverty in America. Its 8,000 members—who serve at 1,100 projects nationwide—continue to address the root causes of poverty. VISTAs focus their efforts to build the capacity of organizations that fight illiteracy, improve health services, and foster economic development. Rather than providing services to low-income individuals and communities, VISTAs strengthen and build the capacity of nonprofit organizations. They develop new programs, raise funds, and recruit and train volunteers. Each VISTA member makes a year-long, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project. This collaboration with the Advancement Foundation and AmeriCorps will be our second year working with this program and our first year to host a VISTA Associate for a year-long commitment Nov 2015-16.
Father, Son and Family Banquet
Now in its 84th year, The Father, Son & Family Banquet is the YMCA of Roanoke Valley’s longest, continuously running program. This annual event is not only a long-standing tradition celebrating families; it is also an event that showcases the YMCA’s role in Roanoke history.
The first Father, Son Banquet was initiated in 1932 by L.A. Lee, the first director of the William A. Hunton Branch YMCA. The Hunton Y was Roanoke's YMCA for African Americans, and as such, the first banquets were attended only by black residents. Just 10 or so boys and a few fathers came to the first banquet, according to 92-year-old Al Holland, who attended the first event, and nearly every event since. The banquet was held upstairs in the dining room at the Dumas Hotel in Roanoke, and LA. Lee said a few morally instructive words.
The old Hunton YMCA played a large part in the lives of some young black Roanokers in the first half of the 20th century. "The Y was the only thing we had," recalled longtime YMCA employee Louis Brown in a story about his retirement in 2003. "It kept us out of trouble, and it kept some of us alive." Old news stories speak of pool and ping pong tables, and a library in the basement, which was the only library blacks in the city could check out books. The Hunton YMCA, later moved to Gainsboro Road and Patton Avenue. Both buildings are now gone.
Segregation at YMCAs was ended in 1964, and African Americans in Roanoke were able to use the Central YMCA downtown. The banquet, which began as a Hunton Y tradition, has evolved over the years—opening its doors to all races and welcoming mothers and daughters.
From its humble beginnings with just a dozen or so in attendance, the Father, Son & Family event is now attended by more than 300 people each year, including Roanoke City officials. The event has featured key note speakers, music and entertainment by local churches and youth groups. In addition, Hamlar-Curtis Funeral Homes presents awards to the oldest father-son pair, the youngest son, the father accompanied by the most sons and a father-son look-alike contest. Similar awards are presented by James Bethel and Amy Brown to mothers and daughters in attendance.
The whole family is invited to take part in this annual event which celebrates and honors the unique bond forged between fathers and sons.
Everyone Deserves A Y
At the Y, we’re about strengthening our community, and that’s why we make our programs and services available to everyone. We welcome all people of all ages, races, ethnicities, religions, abilities and financial circumstances. We don’t turn away anyone because they are unable to pay the full rate. We offer Financial assistance through the Everyone Deserves a Y program, funded by Y Partners scholarship fund. Each year, we give out more than $1 million in scholarship money to those searching for a healthier life in spirit, mind and body. We are able to do this because of your generosity.
Click here to find out how you can give a Y membership to family in need.