Congratulations to our new ‘Guardians’

Providing a safe environment for every person at the First Coast YMCA—especially children—is essential to our mission as a community-serving organization. We understand that in order to keep our promise to help our youngest members and program participants grow and thrive, we must do everything in our power to assure the safety of everyone who enters a Y and/or participates in a Y program or event. 

We are proud to announce that Maria Aristizabal, Candace Burrows, Chuck Steinfurth and Tammy Miller have elevated their commitment to preventing sexual abuse at the Y by becoming Certified Praesidium Guardians. Praesidium, a national leader in preventing sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults, created this certification to recognize individuals who are dedicated to creating a culture of safety.

Maria is Vice President of Operations – Youth Development for the First Coast YMCA. Candace is Associate Vice President – Day Camp, Family Programs & Community Engagement. Chuck is Associate Vice President of After School Programs. Tammy is Senior Vice President of Risk Management.

To attain certification, Maria, Candace, Chuck and Tammy successfully completed a robust certification process, where they became proficient in best practices in organizational abuse prevention that includes specific steps to prevent incidents of abuse by employees, volunteers, or program participants. They also demonstrated their knowledge on how to respond effectively if an allegation or incident occurs, and how to ensure that the First Coast YMCA stays current and consistent in the implementation of abuse prevention best practices.

As an organization, the First Coast YMCA has taken the following actions to keep kids safe in our Y facilities, camps and programs and maintain the reputation of safety we have built during our service to Northeast Florida since 1908:

  • Require criminal background checks for staff and volunteers
  • Provide and require training for staff and volunteers on preventing and responding to child abuse
  • Require staff and volunteers to report child abuse in accordance with applicable laws
  • Require screening all adult members, participants, guests and volunteers against a national sex offender registry 
  • Require monthly screening of our association database against national sex offender registry

Learn more about steps everyone can take to help create a culture of safety and prevent child sexual abuse.