Since 1956, the YMCA has held a presence in Baytown. But after spending 49 years on Wye Drive, the Baytown Family YMCA moved to 6952 Garth Road. But now that location has closed.
But what DeAndra Edwards-Stanley, executive director of the Baytown YMCA, wants people to know is despite not having a traditional facility, the Y has not gone anywhere.
“People have said to me they thought the Y was gone,” Edwards-Stanley said. “But we are looking for partners. For instance, if there is a school that wants to do group exercises for them, we can look into things like that. We want the community to tell us, aside from the bricks and mortar right now, what do you want to see from us?”
Edwards-Stanley said at the moment, the YMCA in Baytown does not have the financial capital for a new building.
“And if the city builds the recreation center, we would not be able to compete with it,” she said. “But the model that goes around the country is partnerships. We would love to build with someone else.”
The Baytown YMCA still offers community programs that help people. One is the Baytown Family YMCA’s Operation Backpack. In August, Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital’s staff donated 150 backpacks to the program. That same month, the health-focused organization began an indoor walking club at the San Jacinto Mall, before it was mostly demolished in preparation for the coming San Jacinto Marketplace. Senior classes are still being offered at Trinity Episcopal Church. Lee College is allowing the YMCA to use its facilities for a diabetes prevention program as well as a water safety program in its recently renovated natatorium. In addition,
“Right now, we are in four Goose Creek CISD schools running a soccer clinic that is free of charge to children that attend,” Edwards-Stanley said. “We would like to expand and offer a soccer sports program. We are in talks with Lee College about that now.”
Edwards-Stanley said she has spoken to the folks at Lee College about having a water exercise class there and having more youth sports opportunities that could entail renting a gymnasium for basketball during the winter.
Although the Garth Road location did give citizens a chance to workout, Edwards-Stanley said it was not cost-effective.
“For the amount of the people we were serving, the rent was astronomical,” she said. “Being in that building, we were not financially able to do what we do best, which is engaging with families and focusing on children and families. Now, the money we raise and bring in, we can re-invest into serving communities in a larger capacity.”
Edwards-Stanley hopes to locate field space and gyms in order to offer discounts to families in need to play sports.
“I can also do group classes at a subsidy because I am not just focusing on paying rent,” she said.
The biggest thing Edwards-Stanley said she would like to have is partners.
“We are looking for them,” she said. “These are people that would like to have Y programs. That is what we are here to do - build with others.”
Baytown councilman Charles Johnson recently joined the Baytown Family YMCA board.
“I believe it’s important for Baytown to have a Y because the Y is an organization that serves families in our community,” Johnson said. “There’s a program for every member of the family. The Y is still here and looking for opportunities to partner with local businesses and organizations to fill gaps in the community.”
The largest fundraiser the Baytown Family YMCA has is still ongoing – the Gator Ride. Some thought the event was in danger of not happening again after Billy Barnett, a Baytown YMCA board member, died in June. Barnett has worked in the YMCA Gator Ride Steering Committee since 1994. However, it is still going to happen, according to Edwards-Stanley. The next one is scheduled for March 7.
This year’s Gator Ride had 700 participants, along with 300 volunteers.
“We are looking to grow that even more,” Edwards-Stanley said.
Edwards-Stanley added she is finalizing the YMCA’s Community Impact Luncheon.
“It is an event for business owners and people in the community to understand that we’re here and to give them an opportunity to grow together.
If you are interested in partnering with the Baytown Family YMCA, contact Edwards-Stanley at 281-458-7777 or email her at DeAndraE@ymcahouston.org.