The YMCA pushing forward despite hurricane damages

WE ARE FAMILY— The YMCA WaveRunners swim club is pictured with the hurricane relief items sent by their extended swim family in New Providence on September 24, 2019. Pictured at back third left is head coach Andy Loveitt. (PHOTOS: SHAYNE STUBBS)

Weeks after Hurricane Dorian left the island of Grand Bahama reeling; the YMCA, like many others, have begun to pick up the pieces. 

The Y’s Swim Club, YMCA WaveRunners, have resumed its swimming schedule. The team meets daily, Monday - Friday beginning at 3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. 

In that light, the Bahamas Swim Federation did its part in ensuring that the Y’s swimming pool was operational as soon as possible after the storm.

Also, parents and swimmers from the various swimming clubs in New Providence came together to send toiletries, clothes, cleaning supplies and more to assist the local swim team family. 

“The Swimming Federation and swim world in Nassau came through for Grand Bahama, after the devastation of Hurricane Dorian,” shared Executive Director of the YMCA Karon Pinder-Johnson. “We had to go into overdrive in securing the swimming pool, and that’s because we didn’t have the funds to drain the pool. 

“We dumped a lot of chemicals into the pool before the hurricane and afterwards we came out and dumped more. We had one generator to run one of the pumps, so that got the ball rolling on that as well. 

“Bahamas Swimming Federation then donated two additional pumps and of course, that created the normalcy for us with the swimming pool. We started swimming last week Monday, September 16, and the kids were super excited. We can’t thank the Federation enough.” 

Pinder-Johnson added that BSF President Algernon Cargill, traveled to Grand Bahama for a personal visit and to assess what the organization was up against. 

“Could we have done it by ourselves? Maybe, but it would have taken us much longer to get it done. He stepped in right on time and the kids are now swimming,” said a pleased Pinder-Johnson.

In regards to the relief items that were shared among parents and swimmers on the island, Pinder-Johnson noted that the items were carefully thought out by their extended swim family in Nassau. 

“The parents and families did get together and, I think, the families here will be very pleased by what was sent for the homes as well as the swimmers. We’re elated, and we want to say a special thank you to all who took the time out and remembered us in this very difficult time.”

Georgette Albury, a parent in New Providence, shared that each club (eight in total) were responsible for a group of items. While one club was responsible for toiletries, another club donated clothes and so forth. 

“We asked each club to be responsible for a particular group of items – cleaning supplies, food, toiletries – and then we got together as one big swim family. We packed everything and had them shipped. 

“We partnered with Bahamas Fast Ferries, one of our parents is employed there, and he ensured that our pallets were delivered to Freeport. We also partnered with Milo B. Butler, he assisted with us getting the items from St. John’s where we met and put the items together. He held the items until the ferry was ready for them and he delivered them for us,” Albury explained.

Albury disclosed that a small number of Grand Bahama’s swimmers who were displaced by the storm, were welcomed with open arms by families and clubs in New Providence to attend high school and join new clubs. 

Pinder-Johnson concluded that while the tennis courts and part of the fitness facilities are also operational, the facility’s overall landscape is in need of some serious attention. 

“There is still much work to be done. The security fencing for the property, 65 percent of that is down. In addition to that, we were not exempt from the flooding, and one half of the building had to be gutted completely. 

“We lost our treadmills. But, the community is still onboard and still supporting us. We’re just excited about what the new start is going to bring. We’re in dialog with YMCA’s of the World and they’re putting together to see how best they can help us,” Pinder-Johnson said. 

“As it stands right now, we don’t have any insurance. We do have liability insurance that covers a significant amount in case someone gets injured on the property.

“Our basketball court, we have since allowed the Rotarians of Grand Bahama to utilize that as a distribution center.

“If there’s anyone in the community that wants to help and support, they can always come in and ask,” Pinder-Johnson encouraged. 

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