Central Florida YMCA highlights its mission of social responsibility
The YMCA is changing its image, but Central Florida YMCA Executive Director Bud Oliver said that's nothing to fear.
Friday he sat down with the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce to discuss just what will change within the 166-year-old organization.
Central Florida's YMCA is a $65 million organization with 27 locations spanning six counties.
Its Winter Park facility was part of an intense debate last fall when the YMCA brought plans to the city for an expansion that would involve bigger locker rooms, more parking spaces, and a second pool. The locker rooms and parking spaces were approved by the City Commission.
"As far as I know they're still going through with those plans," Winter Park Mayor Ken Bradley said.
At the Commerce breakfast Friday morning, Oliver focused on more widespread changes to the YMCA's American organization.
For starters, the ubiquitous logo that's been in use in the U.S. since 1967 is disappearing, making way for five different colored logos. They represent the areas of focus: "For youth development. For healthy living. For social responsibility." And with all that comes a new name: The YMCA will now be officially known as the Y.
One of its big changes will involve more of the social responsibility angle, as the Y attempts to bolster its image as more than just a gym with a swimming pool, Oliver said.
"When we interviewed people, they saw us as a gym and swim," Oliver said. "We're a cause-oriented organization."
Children in Eatonville who haven't learned to swim can do so with the YMCA, he said. The predominately black community receives free swimming classes from YMCA instructors.
"Drowning among African Americans is a No. 2 or 3 [killer]," Oliver said. "These are the types of programs that people should know about."
The Y will also be pushing mentorship and community involvement programs in an attempt to reach out more broadly, he said.
Healthy living will still be a major goal with the YMCA, Oliver said, but the organization will be sticking to the basics.
"We're not about training people for the Ironman Triathlon," he said. "We're about lowering cholesterol."
That will mean more focus on improving the health of sedentary people by getting them moving – a recent program they launched was literally called the 'Get Moving' campaign.
What will stay the same are the principles instilled in the nonprofit by its founders in London in 1844. Just because the organization is losing a few letters doesn't mean they're losing the values, he said.
"People think that because we're changing we've taken the C out of YMCA," Oliver said. "Our mission has not changed, and our values have not changed either."