An enhanced YMCA headquarters and the introduction of new programmes are among plans on the cards for the longstanding social organization.
The vision for YMCA was shared by its president, Antonio Elcock during a recent courtesy call on Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steven Blackett at the minister’s office.
Elcock, who was accompanied on the visit by General Secretary of the Latin America and Caribbean Association (LACA) of the YMCAs, Antonio Merino, explained that the organization needed to develop relevant programmes that would engage its target audience in “meaningful, useful and relevant activities off the streets”.
Minister Blackett shared the president’s views, while lauding the YMCA for its well-known breakfast feeding programme and noting the organization’s wide range of sporting and educational initiatives. He assured the YMCA board members that as the organization sought to evolve, they would have his ministry’s continued support.
In addition to developing relevant programmes, Elcock pointed out that the board is also seeking to enhance the aesthetics of the facility at Pinfold Street, the City, as its current state is not inviting to the public.
“I think the persona and the perception when passing the building is that nothing happens, due to the condition and the state of the facility…We have taken the decision that we really need to enhance the facility to let people know that we can offer them some sort of relief and activity,” he said.
Merino, who is in his second year of office, said he was excited to connect with the Barbados branch of the organization and experience its “strong legacy”, as it was the first YMCA in the Caribbean and Latin America.
He added that during his short visit to the island, he hoped to learn more about the local organization and discuss how the LACA of YMCAs could support its development.
Other topics discussed during the courtesy call included the YMCA’s sporting programme, as well as the provision of a hostel at the organization’s headquarters to provide boarding for visiting teams and other persons in the future.
The courtesy visit to Minister Blackett was also attended by 2nd vice president of YMCA Barbados, Emerald Holder; director of YMCA Barbados, Orson Simpson; Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Andrew Gittens, and other ministry officials.