For A Better Us

March 31, 2021

Help Us Build Brighter Futures

By Eric K. Mann, President and CEO, YMCA of Florida’s First Coast
March 31, 2021

The events that have unfolded over this past year have dramatically impacted the world, our community, our families and our Y. We couldn’t have imagined how much things would change and how important our Y’s work would be to our community.

When the devastating effects of COVID-19 swept across the country and landed on our doorsteps, we worked tirelessly to find new ways to keep our neighbors active, healthy and connected by:

  • Providing emergency child care services for hundreds of medical workers, first responders and essential employees
  • Making hundreds of well-check calls weekly to seniors
  • Offering complimentary virtual group exercise classes and academic services
  • Distributing food and supplies to the most vulnerable

The COVID-19 pandemic has also brought to the forefront the disparities within our health system that people and communities of color face. As an organization committed to health equity, Ys are now serving as key leaders and partners in ensuring equitable access to the vaccine.

We continue to work every day to create understanding among people of diverse backgrounds and provide necessary resources that ensure all people, no matter who they are or where they come from, have the opportunity to reach their full potential with dignity.

We’re so thankful for our generous donors, volunteers, members and partners who believe the Y is a positive force in this community and have invested their time, talent and treasure to help us build a brighter future.

The need on the First Coast is still great, and the challenges we are facing won’t disappear overnight. With so much work still to be done, we are asking for your help.

A gift to the Y helps the First Coast Y – and everyone in the communities we serve – shine. Here’s what you can help make possible with your support:

  • You nurture kids with safe places to learn, play and thrive.
  • You empower teens with character building activities, college and career readiness, leadership skills and positive guidance.
  • You save lives through swim lessons and prevention programs that help people fight disease and live a healthier life.
  • You keep seniors young with fitness programs that connect them to others, strengthen their bodies and keep their minds sharp.
  • You help others. Every dollar donated has an immediate impact locally.

Donate Today

Throughout our 112-year history on the First Coast, never has it been more apparent that the Y is not a building. We’re people – from all backgrounds – who want to improve our lives, nurture our families and strengthen our community, together.

By Eric K. Mann, President and CEO, YMCA of Florida’s First Coast March 31, 2021 The events that have unfolded over this past year have dramatically impacted the world, our community, our families and our Y. We couldn’t have imagined how much things would change and how important our Y’s…


February 26, 2021

COVID-19 VACCINES: Accurate Information, Equitable Access

Published February 2021 – YMCA OF THE USA

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the Y has worked diligently to meet the most pressing needs of the 10,000 communities we serve across the United States, especially those that have been hit hardest by the pandemic. By providing child care to essential workers and first responders, feeding families facing food insecurity, connecting with seniors who are isolated, housing people who are homeless and supporting children learning virtually, the Y has worked to make sure everyone in our communities has access to the resources they need.

As the COVID-19 vaccines begin reaching the broader population, now the Y is working to ensure that everyone has equitable access to accurate information about the vaccines and to the vaccines themselves, especially Black and Brown communities, which have been disproportionately affected by the health and economic impacts of the virus.

Ys across the country are committed to providing vaccine education, and many have offered to serve as vaccine distribution sites. YMCA of the USA is supporting these efforts and joining several national health and community-serving organizations in distributing accurate information to our communities and calling for equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines.

VACCINE FINDER
ADDITIONAL VACCINE INFORMATION & RESOURCES

Free Online Event
COVID-19 Vaccine Myth-busting | Co-hosted by First Coast YMCA

March 5
1:00pm

First Coast YMCA Facebook

Join Baptist Health’s Executive Vice President and Chief Physician Executive Elizabeth Ransom, MD, FACS to distinguish fact from fiction when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Ransom will cover:
• Pfizer vs. Moderna
• How does the vaccine work?
• Common side effects
• Vaccine safety
• COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy
• COVID-19 variants and the vaccine

Published February 2021 – YMCA OF THE USA Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the Y has worked diligently to meet the most pressing needs of the 10,000 communities we serve across the United States, especially those that have been hit hardest by the pandemic. By providing child care to essential workers…


February 8, 2021

Building a Brighter Future

The Florida Times-Union Guest Column published February 7, 2021

Eric K. Mann, President & CEO, YMCA of Florida’s First Coast
Doug Baer, Chair of the Board of Directors, YMCA of Florida’s First Coast

A New Year is always filled with the promise of positive change, and following the sudden disruption of 2020, there is even more anticipation and hope for what 2021 will bring. Like many of our neighbors, other businesses and organizations, the First Coast YMCA continues to face financial hardships in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. We remain steadfast in our work to build a brighter future for all, and are so grateful for the support of those who recognize our deep commitment to strengthening this community.

At the end of 2020, in the midst of immense challenges, billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott surprised the First Coast YMCA with an unrestricted $10 million gift. This substantial contribution is a testament to the trust we have earned through our unwavering service to generations of families on the First Coast. We are humbled and thankful for her generosity. To uphold both Ms. Scott’s confidence, and that of all of our donors, our leadership team and Metropolitan Board of Directors diligently deliberated over the allocation of this gift.

Like many nonprofits, the Y found itself with limited cash reserves in the wake of the pandemic after temporarily closing our doors to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. To ensure operational continuity, our stewardship of this gift will focus on bolstering our financial foundation to sustain and amplify our impact now and in the future.

Support from our community enabled us to do so much for our neighbors in 2020. We provided emergency child care, kept the community connected through free virtual workouts and events, helped combat senior isolation, fed those who were hungry and increased educational equity through local partnerships. We are tremendously grateful for those who supported this work and we’re committed to doing even more by assigning a portion of Ms. Scott’s gift to the Y’s newly-created Endowment Fund. This fund will primarily be used to support critical programs that require yearly contributions to survive.

The Y is not a building, our facilities are the conduit that helps us deliver on our promises to empower young people, improve health and well-being and inspire action. Ms. Scott’s gift will enable the Y to make improvements to maintain, preserve and extend the life of our existing locations as we explore new opportunities in high-growth areas to reach more people across the communities we serve. These investments will help us provide greater support for branches and programs in our region’s under-resourced neighborhoods.

We know challenges lie ahead, but we remain vigilant in providing services and programs that transform lives. Sustaining the Y’s mission long-term is not possible without continued support from our community members and generous donors. As we move into this new season, we invite you to join in making a difference with us at FCYMCA.org.

The Florida Times-Union Guest Column published February 7, 2021 Eric K. Mann, President & CEO, YMCA of Florida’s First Coast Doug Baer, Chair of the Board of Directors, YMCA of Florida’s First Coast A New Year is always filled with the promise of positive change, and following the sudden disruption…


February 2, 2021

YMCA Free Digital Library

Play, Exploration, and Learning for Families, Toddlers, and K-6 Students Across Florida

Age of Learning has partnered with the Florida House of Representatives to support the New Worlds Reading Initiative.

Come read with us! All Florida families now have free access to quality literary resources through access to Reading IQ. Reading IQ is designed by experts with industry standard leveling to make it easy to find the perfect book from pre-school to 6th grade.

Studies show that creating a steady stream of new, age-appropriate books has been shown to nearly triple interest in reading within months and children who are read to at least three times a week by a family member are almost twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading compared to children who are read to less than 3 times a week.

To access thousands of books:

  • Visit ReadingIQ.com/NewWorlds
  • Select “Create Your Free Account”
  • Email your email and create a password
  • Complete a brief survey
  • Add your child/ren to the account by entering their name and reading level
    • Your child can also take a Reading Level Assessment to get customized book selections
  • Start reading!

At the Y, we believe literacy is a key pillar in our youth development work.

Play, Exploration, and Learning for Families, Toddlers, and K-6 Students Across Florida Age of Learning has partnered with the Florida House of Representatives to support the New Worlds Reading Initiative. Come read with us! All Florida families now have free access to quality literary resources through access to Reading IQ….


January 26, 2021

High Honors for First Coast YMCA Employees

We are so proud of our First Coast YMCA leaders recently honored by their peers for their individual accomplishments and leadership that strengthens the YMCA movement.

Every year, Florida’s YMCA Professional Network (YPN) recognizes members for their positive impact on community, leadership and creativity. This year’s winners are more than deserving of their awards. We can’t thank them enough for their hard work and love for the Y!

YMCA Legacy Award – Tammy Miller


Tammy began her YMCA career at the Martin County YMCA in Stuart, Florida in 1987. Over the course of 11 years, she worked in wellness, sports, camps, aquatics, membership, and childcare and achieved an Associate Director role based on her contributions. She joined the First Coast in 1998 as the Executive Director of the St. Augustine Family YMCA and then moved to the Risk Management department and now serves as SVP of Risk Management. Her achievements include being named the First Coast YMCA’s Employee of the year in 2009. Most recently, Tammy has played an integral role in ensuring the safety of all everyone at the Y by co-leading the task force responsible for developing and implementing COVID-19 protocols. Tammy has a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and a Master’s in Exercise and Sports Science.


Outstanding Director of the Year – Candace Burrows


Candace joined the First Coast YMCA in July 2012 and oversees the association’s Day Camp programming, totaling 28 sites with thousands of campers each summer. Candace also leads our Before and Afterschool child care in Duval and Nassau counties. She is key at connecting the Y with great community partners to ensure all kids have access to resources to learn, grow and thrive. In March 2020, Candace helped lead the transformation our youth serving sites with all new COVID-19 protocols to ensure safe spaces for children, parents and staff. Candace holds a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management with a minor in Business Administration, a Director’s Certification from the Department of Children and Families, and a YUSA Multi-Team Leader Certification.


Developing Others Award – John Lyon


John’s career at the YMCA has spanned over 30 years, starting as a Camp Director in Round Rock, TX all the way to V.P. of Operations and Executive Director in St. Augustine. Since joining the First Coast YMCA, John’s main priority has been to build strong, impactful leadership teams. Of the five individuals benefitting from John’s leadership, 80% are women and 40% are diverse employees. John is involved in the Rotary Club, Kiwanis and completed Leadership Kingsport and Leadership Round Rock. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and a YUSA Team Leader Certification.


Emerging Leader Award – Shermayne Reynolds


Shermayne started her career at the Y at the Wilson Family YMCA in Augusta, GA and joined the First Coast Y in 2019 as a Youth Development Program Director. She is extremely dedicated to the Y’s cause, especially nurturing the potential of all children. She brings quality-driven and innovative ideas to our team. For example, she developed the Teen Maze Program in one of our partner schools to give students a broader understanding of what life is like outside of school. Shermayne has a master’s degree in Management and Leadership. She serves as a Community Youth Advisor and was selected as a co-leader of the First Coast YMCA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force.

We are so proud of our First Coast YMCA leaders recently honored by their peers for their individual accomplishments and leadership that strengthens the YMCA movement. Every year, Florida’s YMCA Professional Network (YPN) recognizes members for their positive impact on community, leadership and creativity. This year’s winners are more than…


December 15, 2020

A Gift from MacKenzie Scott

The First Coast YMCA is extremely thankful and humbled to be recognized by MacKenzie Scott for our organization’s work during the pandemic. We understand from Ms. Scott’s team that every organization receiving a gift was carefully researched and vetted for how they served all communities especially youth in under-resourced neighborhoods and also how they responded to the pandemic.

To be selected as one of 384 organizations to receive such a generous donation is a true testament to our impact through the programs we provide, our dedicated staff who work tirelessly to serve everyone who enters our doors and our members who stayed with the Y through the pandemic.

At this time, we will not be disclosing the specific amount in order to first focus on how best to use Ms. Scott’s generous gift. We are working with our Metropolitan Board of Directors and senior leadership team to ensure every dollar donated is used to strengthen our community and sustain our mission for generations to come.

Ms. Scott’s investment in the work we are doing everyday will create immediate opportunities for the Y to continue to help all First Coast residents live their healthiest lives.

The First Coast YMCA is extremely thankful and humbled to be recognized by MacKenzie Scott for our organization’s work during the pandemic. We understand from Ms. Scott’s team that every organization receiving a gift was carefully researched and vetted for how they served all communities especially youth in under-resourced neighborhoods and…


November 2, 2020

Sports and Arts Winter Camp

We’re mixing up the fun this December with an all-new Sports and Arts Winter Camp.

December 21-23 and December 28-30
6:30am-6:00pm

Register Online

duPont YMCA Youth Development Campus
YMCA at Flagler Health+ Village
Ponte Vedra YMCA

SPORTS CAMP

Winter sports camp will provide campers with the opportunity to learn sport-specific skills, which will help them enjoy each sport through fun and exciting drills and games with a strong focus on character development.

ARTS CAMP

Kids will build fundamental skills and character values through fun, hands-on arts enrichment. Each day will include a focus on art and creative expression while building confidence, character values and teamwork.

DAILY AREAS OF FOCUS

Week 1 Mon 12/21 Tue 12/22 Wed 12/23
ARTS Visual Art Drama Culinary Art
SPORTS Basketball Soccer Street hockey

 

Week 2 Mon 12/28 Tue 12/29 Wed 12/30
ARTS Visual Art Textile Art Culinary Art
SPORTS Basketball Flag Football All Sports

 

Cost

Varies by location
*Financial Assistance is available to those who qualify.

Safety First

The following health protocols will be in place:

  • Daily temperature checks and health screens
  • Staff and students are required to wear face coverings
  • Cleaning and disinfecting of all areas and supplies used

What time does my child need to arrive and be picked up?
Campers must arrive by 8:30am and program ends at 3:00pm. Complimentary before and after camp care will be available until 6:00pm where kids will explore STEM Discovery Center, participate in Character Development Activities and enjoy friendly competition in recreational games.

What does my child need to bring every day?
Children must pack a lunch and snack daily. Wear closed-toe shoes, face covering and comfortable attire. Please bring a reusable labelled water bottle.

What are the safety protocols?
All of our camps and child care programs follow extensive safety protocols to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

We’re mixing up the fun this December with an all-new Sports and Arts Winter Camp. December 21-23 and December 28-30 6:30am-6:00pm Register Online duPont YMCA Youth Development Campus YMCA at Flagler Health+ Village Ponte Vedra YMCA SPORTS CAMP Winter sports camp will provide campers with the opportunity to learn sport-specific skills,…


October 28, 2020

We Love Our Teachers and School Employees!

These difficult times have reminded us all what really matters most: helping our family, our friends and our neighbors. Like the Y, schools are places that connect and engage and inspire a brighter tomorrow, despite the obstacles.

We applaud all of our educators and school employees on the First Coast. We know this school year has been among your most challenging. Yet, you continue to provide our community’s children with the tools they need for success in a fun and safe environment.

Thank you.

To show our gratitude, we are gifting every local elementary, middle and high school on the First Coast with a one-year YMCA membership for the principal to award to the teacher or employee of his/her choice.

Plus – all teachers and school employees are eligible for these specials when they join any First Coast YMCA:

  • NO JOINING FEE – Save up to $100!
  • 500 Y Rewards Points
  • Monthly Discount on Membership Dues*

This is just a small way that we’re able to give back to those who give so much.

Taking care of our health is more important now than ever before. The Y offers programming and activities for all ages, interests and abilities including group exercise classes, virtual fitness, chronic disease prevention, nutrition, swimming, basketball, pickleball, camp, before and afterschool child care, volunteer opportunities and so much more.

We’re here to help our neighbors focus on what matters most: their health, their family and friends, and their community.

Join online today or, for more information, please contact your local Y.

*Must join the First Coast Y by Nov. 30, 2020. Monthly discount good for as long as the membership remains active and in good standing. Discount may vary by county. Contact your local Y for more information.

These difficult times have reminded us all what really matters most: helping our family, our friends and our neighbors. Like the Y, schools are places that connect and engage and inspire a brighter tomorrow, despite the obstacles. We applaud all of our educators and school employees on the First Coast….


September 17, 2020

Changes Ahead But Commitment to Strengthening Community Remains

Closing our doors and creating distance between the people we serve was previously unimaginable for an organization like ours, one that is committed to bringing people and communities closer together. Yet, six months ago due to COVID-19, this became our reality.

We are grateful our facilities are back open and we have been able to safely reactivate some of our key programs. However, the financial impact of the public health crisis continues with lower facility usage and program enrollment at our Ys across the First Coast.

With the approval of our Metropolitan Board of Directors, we are implementing a plan to ensure we can best serve our community now and into the future. This plan includes the following difficult, but necessary decisions:

  • Close the YMCA at Flagler Center
  • Reduce Branch Hours
  • Reduce Workforce and Implement Pay Cuts

Our leadership team and board conducted an extensive review of the Y’s operations and finances in the hope of finding an alternative. We are truly heartbroken about these decisions and remain committed to connecting everyone affected with the opportunities and services needed.

Flagler Center Closing

The last day for classes and KidZone at the Flagler Center Y will be September 30, 2020. Members can select a new branch and keep their same rate for a year. There are five Ys within a 20-minute drive.

Reduced Branch Hours

The YMCA of Florida’s First Coast is reducing hours at locations across the First Coast due to lower facility usage from COVID-19.

Branch

Effective

Mon-Thu

Fri

Sat

Sun

Baptist North 10/1 5:00am-7:30pm 5:00am-6:00pm 7:00am-noon Closed
Barco-Newton Now 5:00am-8:00pm 5:00am-7:00pm 7:00am-3:00pm Closed
BOA Tower 9/28 6:00am-2:00pm, 4:00pm-6:00pm 6:00am-2:00pm, 4:00pm-5:00pm Closed Closed
Brooks 10/1 5:00am-8:00pm 5:00am-8:00pm 7:00am-1:00pm 7:00am-1:00pm
Dye Clay 10/1 5:00am-8:00pm 5:00am-7:00pm 8:00am-1:00pm Closed
Flagler Health+ Village 10/1 5:30am-7:30pm 5:30am-7:00pm 7:00am-1:00pm Closed
Johnson 10/1 5:30am-1:00pm 5:30am-1:00pm Closed Closed
Johnson Teen Center 10/1 2:00pm-6:30pm 2:00pm-6:30pm Closed Closed
McArthur Now 5:00am-8:00pm 5:00am-7:00pm 7:00am-3:00pm Noon-5:00pm
Nocatee Opening 5:00am-8:00pm 5:00am-7:00pm 7:00am-1:00pm Closed
Ponte Vedra Now 5:00am-8:00pm 5:00am-7:00pm 7:00am-1:00pm Closed
St. Augustine Now 5:30am-8:00pm 5:30am-7:00pm 7:00am-1:00pm Closed
Wildlight Opening 5:30am-8:00pm 5:30am-7:00pm 7:00am-3:00pm Closed
Williams 10/1 5:00am-8:00pm 5:00am-8:00pm 7:00am-1:00pm 8:00am-1:00pm
Winston 9/28 5:00am-8:00pm 5:00am-8:00pm 7:00am-1:00pm Noon-5:00pm

Workforce Reduction and Pay Cuts

This plan also includes a workforce reduction across all First Coast YMCA locations and a pay cut for all full-time employees. We are grateful to the dedicated service of our employees and the passion they have for our cause of strengthening community and positively impacting the health and well-being of all people on the First Coast.

Thank You

While COVID-19 has challenged us in many ways, it has not stopped us from serving our community at a time where we are needed most. We are thankful for all of our sustaining members and generous donors. They are helping the Y continue to support the critical needs of others in our community, including:

  • Supporting our health care workers and essential employees who needed emergency child care during the Spring and Summer
  • Preventing senior isolation by keeping our older adult members virtually engaged and connected despite this period of social distancing
  • Providing new ways to keep children and families safely connected through KidZone, Learning Labs, Sports, Camps and more

We remain committed to strengthening community and serving all. By supporting the Y, you help guarantee that everyone, regardless of their circumstances or ability to pay, can benefit from our values-centered programs. Our work will never stop and is only possible with support from our community.

Give Now

Closing our doors and creating distance between the people we serve was previously unimaginable for an organization like ours, one that is committed to bringing people and communities closer together. Yet, six months ago due to COVID-19, this became our reality. We are grateful our facilities are back open and…


September 14, 2020

Virtual SAT Boot Camp FREE for YMCA Teens

The First Coast YMCA is partnering with High School 9:12 to offer access to virtual Academic Bootcamps to First Coast YMCA high school members and participants. The online six-week boot camp will prepare students for the SAT. The evening classes will take place once a week beginning Sept. 24 ahead of the Nov. 7 SAT test date. Classes are available for students at Duval County Public Schools as well as First Coast YMCA members and participants in high school.

Starting its third year, the High School 9:12 Academic Boot Camps are designed to help academically successful students improve their college entrance exam scores. In the first two years, the average score increase on the SAT has been 250-300 points through the six-week program.

“Thanks to everyone’s best efforts, we are able to continue to provide the Academic Boot Camp program to the students not only in Duval County public schools, but also now to all First Coast YMCA members in high school,” said Alan Verlander, Executive Director Jacksonville High School 9:12. “High School 9:12 is built to make a lasting impact and we’ve seen so many students improve their test scores through these boot camps.  Having a partnership with the YMCA and now working to give their members a great benefit shows how the YMCA is truly dedicated to the entire person…just like High School 9:12.”

Members of the YMCA will have free access to the online, six-week boot camp for their high schoolers as an added benefit to their membership. First Coast YMCA high school members who do not have wifi access at home can contact their neighborhood YMCA about reserving a quiet space at the branch to complete the program.

“The First Coast YMCA is pleased to partner with High School 9:12 to bring a SAT/ACT Boot Camp to high school students, including our YMCA members, in Northeast Florida,” said Eric K. Mann, president and CEO of the First Coast YMCA. “As a leading community organization, we strive to nurture the potential of every youth by providing opportunities for them to learn, grow and thrive. Offering SAT and ACT preparation programs adds value for our current YMCA members and helps build greater educational equity for teens of all backgrounds across our community.”

The program schedule is as follows:

  • September 24 (SAT vs. ACT)
  • October 1 (Reading Content and Strategies)
  • October 8 (English Content and Strategies)
  • October 15 (Math Content and Strategies)
  • October 22 (Math/Calculator Strategies)
  • October 29 (Review final test taking strategies)

To find out more about the High School 9:12 program and the Academic Boot Camps, visit JaxHighSchool912.com.

If you are interested in participating in the program or would like to reserve space to the complete the program at the Y, please fill out this form:

The First Coast YMCA is partnering with High School 9:12 to offer access to virtual Academic Bootcamps to First Coast YMCA high school members and participants. The online six-week boot camp will prepare students for the SAT. The evening classes will take place once a week beginning Sept. 24 ahead…