“It’s fun to stay at the….” You guessed it: “…the YMCA.”
Many people are familiar with the YMCA thanks to the famous American disco group Village People’s single hit that gained vast popularity in the late 1970s. However, the benefits of the worldwide youth organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, go well beyond entertainment.
“The YMCA is more than a youth organization. I often see seniors there playing racquetball and tennis, swimming, lifting weights, and doing cardio workouts. This is truly a place that serves people from the cradle to the grave. When I say cradle, I mean they also have child care facilities for young mothers who use the facilities,” said David Malcolm, one of San Diego’s most influential community leaders.
Since day one, the YMCA has been about creating a supportive community. More than 170 years after George Williams founded the first YMCA, the organization is still generating fellowship and support in more than 10,000 communities throughout the United States. The primary goal is to provide services and facilities that instill opportunity and improve the well-being of all local individuals. Anyone can walk through the doors of the YMCA and benefit from the various programs.
“The YMCA’s belief in making body and soul healthy isn’t seen in most nonprofit organizations. The YMCA also hasn’t lost sight of serving the ‘underserved’ communities. Their focus on the minority communities of San Diego is truly commendable,” said Malcolm.
In San Diego, the YMCA of San Diego County hosts programs for all ages that families from any background can take advantage of, centered around sports and fitness, education, camp, and more. Quality child care is available to YMCA members, easing many working parents’ burdens when balancing work and family.
The organization also offers programs fostering a place to grow and thrive that are explicitly geared toward community assistance, including:
● Behavioral Health and Support
● Transitional Housing
● Youth and Young Adult Development
● Family Preservations
● Training and Workshops for childcare providers
These YMCA programs help unite families and community members while keeping participants engaged through creative, fun, and safe activities.
Local facilities like the YMCA have provided safe places for the youth to learn life-enhancing social and emotional skills. During his childhood, Malcolm took advantage of the haven a gymnasium granted to the younger generations who gathered there. The experience provided many valuable lessons that ultimately helped fuel his philanthropic work within the San Diego community.
“I grew up playing basketball almost every day of my life. Having a ‘safe place’ to have fun with my friends and the ability to make new friends in a healthy environment helped form who I am today,” shared Malcolm.
“At the gymnasium, I learned how important teamwork is to really have a successful team. It is easy to see the correlation between teamwork on the court and teamwork in the workplace. The gym also provided a safe place away from drugs and gangs. My wife and I decided we want to provide gymnasiums in San Diego to give others the same opportunity I had growing up.”
Recreation centers and gymnasiums strengthen the local community table in multiple ways, including for students whose parents work until dinner time. Unfortunately, the hours between when school lets out and when a parent comes home can be a vulnerable time for a child, who might be tempted to get involved with the wrong crowd. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry reports that risk factors increase for gang involvement when a student grows up in areas with heavy gang activity, minimal adult supervision, low self-esteem, a lack of positive role models, or unstructured free time on the weekends or during after-school hours.
Gymnasiums are a potential solution for keeping children out of gang involvement, even in communities with lots of gang activity. Children can boost confidence levels through team sports or creative team-building activities hosted by recreation centers while under the proper adult supervision that a working parent often cannot supply during certain hours.
The University of Chicago released a report revealing the benefits of after-school programs in gymnasiums. The report shows a direct link to after-school programs in reducing drug use. In addition, recreation organizations can meet children’s nutritional needs. The National Recreation and Park Association notes that gymnasiums, parks, and recreation centers are children’s second largest food providers. Schools are the first.
As part of their philanthropic mission, Malcolm and his wife support two gymnasiums in the San Diego region and witness the positive transformation that comes with investing back into the community.
“We can see seven days a week what our gymnasiums are doing. Every day it is always in use. Seniors use it during the weekday for many of their activities. Communities and groups use it for meetings and have access to an on-site kitchen. Our dream is that we will play a small part in giving our youth a great safe place for their many needs,” said Malcolm.
About David Malcolm
David Malcolm is a San Diego-based entrepreneur, real estate expert, and community leader. Having a long and successful career in real estate, he knows the importance of giving back. Among his various philanthropic endeavors, Malcolm is most passionate about helping the homeless get their lives back on track. He and his wife Annie also support higher-education opportunities, such as the David Malcolm Scholarship and numerous other charitable nonprofits.