There’s a place in the Coronado neighborhood—a gathering place—where basketballs bounce and friendships are formed; where young campers frolic away the lazy days of summer; where holiday toys await children in need; where families socialize over special dinners; and where a community convenes to strengthen its common bonds.
The EM Downer Family YMCA on South 20th Street in Richmond—and especially its gym—is many things to many people. Now, thanks, in part, to strong community connections formed at For Richmond and the generosity of The Coca-Cola Company, it will continue to be.
Last year the YMCA saw a need to increase the community’s access to safe places to gather for physical activities. Vice President of the West Contra Costa YMCA Don Lau—also For Richmond’s Steering Committee chair—turned to the Centers for Disease Control for funding through a Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant. Accompanying the YMCA’s grant proposal was a support letter from For Richmond, which was thrilled to help bolster the health and well-being of community members via the YMCA.
The YMCA received the grant, as well as an additional helping hand from Cola-Cola, courtesy of Dora Wong, director, public affairs and communications—one of Lau’s associates on For Richmond’s Steering Committee. Wong happened to be seeking community funding opportunities, so Lau invited her to see the YMCA’s gym.
When Wong first set eyes on the gym floor she was dumbstruck by its condition; the wood floor had buckled, giving the impression of “ocean waves,” said Wong, “As a company, we’re always looking to work with organizations that encourage children and families to live healthy lifestyles,” and the gym clearly presented “a great and immediate need” for funding.
At first, Coca-Cola supported the YMCA’s gym floor refurbishment project with a $5,000 gift. When the project’s cost turned out to greatly exceed the original estimate, Coca-Cola stepped in with another $5,000, funding $10,000 out of the overall $17,000 expense. The gym floor took three weeks to complete. Today, thanks to community connections and generosity, it has regained its former glory as a bee-hive of activity.
Lau called For Richmond “the glue” that helped the gym floor project come to fruition.
“For Richmond provided a bridge between a community agency and our community to get the floor done and has been a great partner,” he said.
The YMCA welcomes anyone who’d like to check out the revitalized gym—or the YMCA’s many other life-enriching programs and activities—to stop by for a visit. The perfect opportunity will be a “Healthy Kids Day” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 26, which will feature fitness activities and food for all.