The YMCA of Greater Birmingham is helping to revitalize a community

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For more than a century, the YMCA of Greater Birmingham has provided needed programs and services to its community. It continues to do so while also spearheading a project to revitalize the Roebuck community.

“The YMCA of Greater Birmingham is a charitable organization dedicated to making our community a healthier place to live. Since opening our doors in 1884, our focus has remained the same: connecting people of all ages and backgrounds to bridge the gap in community needs,” said Chief Development office Clark Virden. “Over the years, our programs and facilities have changed, but not our mission of service to the community.”

The YMCA operates in the Greater Birmingham area, including Jefferson and Shelby counties. It serves more than 60,000 people a year through its seven membership branches, two youth centers, and Camp Cosby, an overnight camp in Talladega County. It provides much-needed preschool classes, after-school programs, summer day and overnight camps, food distributions, a Safety Around Water program, free programs and memberships for foster families, youth civic engagement programs, youth college and career preparation, and more.

Publix Charities has donated to the organization to support two programs: one for youth and teen development and one for the Roebuck community project.

“Youth and teen leadership development programs prepare students for life beyond high school, to join the workforce, prepare for college, and participate in civic engagement activities,” Virden said. “Youth programs start with preteens to engage students, so they are prepared to achieve their best by the time they are in high school. In the programs, students attain social and job skills, self-confidence, and preparation for college or the job market.”

The Y broke ground for the Roebuck community project in September 2023—fifty-eight years after it became part of that community. In 1965, “Roebuck was a thriving Birmingham suburb and a destination for shopping, dining, and other family-based activities. Today, Roebuck has fallen into a state of economic depression with high violent crime rates,” Virden said. “Roebuck residents, especially those with low to moderate incomes, need access to a variety of opportunities and services that many of us take for granted.”

The most urgent needs in the area are affordable housing in a safe neighborhood; quality healthcare and preventative medicine; access to mental health support and counseling; access to early childhood education; academic support for school-age children; youth, teen, and senior programs; and summer camp to engage students and support working parents.

The YMCA is leading the efforts to “bring a sense of rebirth and revitalization to Roebuck,” Virden said. “The Northeast YMCA will undergo a renovation that will transform the facility into a true community resource center with the ability to not only address these community needs but also position us to quickly react to unforeseen challenges that may arise.”

The Y is partnering with other local nonprofits, including Habitat for Humanity, Christ Health Center, and Impact Family Counseling.  With the help of those partners, they will build 23 single-family homes on land surrounding the Northeast YMCA, design and incorporate a community-based family medicine clinic with a special emphasis on pediatrics that will be attached to the renovated YMCA, and provide outpatient individual and family counseling as well as services to address mental health issues.

Dan Pile, president and CEO of the YMCA, is grateful for Publix Charities’ assistance.

“Publix Charities’ support of the Roebuck community project allows the YMCA of Greater Birmingham to serve the community through transformational programs,” Pile said. “Community supporters like Publix Charities are vital to improving lives in marginalized communities.”