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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, November 30, 2023


A YMCA for St. Thomas is in the works.
A coordinator from the YMCA of America will be in St. Thomas this week to kick off the project.
Tom Massey, senior national field coordinating consultant for YMCA of America, said he will meet with local organizers to launch a local campaign for a Y in St. Thomas.
St. Thomas attorney Tom Bolt has taken the lead in getting the national organization to help start a YMCA here. Bolt is chairman of the organizing committee. He said other members of the committee have not been solidified, but mentioned Al Laborde and Joe Potter as potential members. Massey said the YMCA of America can provide a lot of assistance to the local community in getting a Y started.
We have a 400-page book on how to do it, he said.
They will also send a retired YMCA director to the island to help organize the local effort.
That person has already been identified. Frank Mark, retired director of the North Brook YMCA near Chicago, is prepared to come to St. Thomas to get the programs going.
Massey said it s a four-step process and it doesn't start with a building.
We want to use existing facilities at first," he said, and we don't want to replicate what's already being done.
The first step has already been taken – forming an organizing committee. The next step is to raise the necessary funds.
According to Bolt, that is about $300,000.
Massey said the third step will be programming, which involves hiring a staff member and gathering volunteers to run the programs.
Then a board of directors is formed.
There is no charge for the assistance given by the national organization.
That's what we do, Massey said.
There are 2,200 Y s across the country. The organization is 150 years old.
Among the things national Y can provide are insurance and a political policy arm.
The Y can also provide administrative assistance. Massey said there are a lot of small organizations out there that have been struggling to stay alive. If they become part of the Y, a lot of their problems will be solved.
But if they do this, Massey said, they cannot maintain autonomy. They would have to be absorbed into the YMCA, for both legal and philosophical reasons.
The YMCA has created its own insurance company.
"We got tired of not being able to get insurance, so we created our own company," Massey said. "The YMCA does everything from rock climbing to scuba diving and it's all covered."
As for philosophy, no kid gets turned away, ever. He said any child who wants to participate can. The Y also offers scholarships.
The most important thing is the community, according to Massey. All Ys are locally owned and operated.

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