YMCA of Superior California

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A Letter from Jay Lowden

Published 04.23.19

Wonderful Journey

I arrived at the YMCA of Superior California in the middle of a recession. It was June of 2009, our Y had been created 18 months earlier through the merger of four independent YMCAs. On my first day, the controller resigned before 9 a.m., I learned the IRS was after us for back taxes, and we were being sued by a father who accused us of teaching his 5-year-old boys to fight, and imprisoning them because we had a fence around the playground. At the end of day, I paused and wondered what the heck I had gotten into. What I had gotten into was the start of what has turned out to be a wonderful journey.

We served 9,280 people in 2009, today it is closer to 30,000, and more than two-thirds are youth and teens. We provide 100,000+ free meals to hungry kids, we care for children in the courts, we teach thousands of kids to swim and be safe around water, our day camps serve more than 800 kids each week during the summer, youth sports participation has more than doubled, childcare programs have expanded, and our resident camp was reborn. We provide free day camp for homeless kids, we manage the pool at juvenile hall, have a wheelchair basketball program, prepare children for kindergarten with t-k camps, and we are one of the largest provider of healthy living programs for seniors.

Back then our budget was $4.4 million, today it is $7.2 million. Our membership of people from all walks of life, all ages and backgrounds is at a ten year high. We serve all. Sit in the lobby of a Y for half an hour and you will understand what that means.

Our facilities are far from perfect, but so much better than before. We have invested $1,237,900 back into them during the past 10 years including: 5 new roofs, 6 new HVAC Units, glass doors in the pool, 2 sewer mains, multiple pool pumps, new servers, lots of technology, numerous coats of paint, new cardio machines, three new buildings at camp, many new floors and so much more. We have banned battleship gray paint and industrial white walls, and what I believe is the world’s ugliest poor man’s casino carpet that was found throughout our offices is but a distant memory.

We have the greatest little YMCA Camp in America. Bear Valley’s history goes back to the 1930s. It survived two brothers’ named Lowden in 1968, and over the past 10 years’ wildfire smoke, tree frogs, vandals and thieves, crushed water tanks, and even trees falling through buildings. It is a magical place.

Throughout my career I have been blessed to work with creative, dedicated and caring individuals, and the staff here is no exception. I want to thank those have shared all or most of this 10-year journey with me. Kelly, Scott, Rene Jen, Larry, Mike, Jecily, Ali, Diana, Katie, Carmen,

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