Brandes family supports local organization’s ability to address youth and health issues abroad
ST. PETERSBURG, FL – July 7, 2014 – At the YMCA World Council meeting last week in Estes Park, Colorado with an audience of 1,300 representatives from 83 countries gathered at the YMCA of the Rockies, the YMCA of the Cayman Islands was voted into the YMCA World Alliance and officially received their charter. David Jezek, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg, and his team have nurtured the founding of the YMCA of the Cayman Islands for the past three years.
The initiative to establish a YMCA in the Cayman Islands was set in motion in 2011 when St. Petersburg residents Russ Brandes and his son, Florida Senator Jeff Brandes, approached Jezek about the need to harness the strength of the local YMCA organization and resources to impact global change. Currently, in the Cayman Islands, youth and crime rates are at an all time high. Childhood obesity rates are among the highest in the word, while teen pregnancies and divorce rates continue to climb.
“There is no other organization like the YMCA that is uniquely situated to take on the challenges facing the Cayman Islands,” said family member and native of the Cayman Islands, Mary Brandes. “Whether strengthening families, building confidence in our youth, or providing recreational facilities that promote healthy lifestyles, the YMCA is an asset to this community and we know it will be an asset to the Cayman Islands.” Mary Brandes also serves on the inaugural board of the YMCA of the Cayman Islands.
With the help of local YMCA support, the YMCA of the Cayman Islands has already established a board of directors of business and civic leaders in Grand Cayman, conducted a community needs assessment, raised nearly $400,000 in seed money on the island, and hired a staff CEO to launch initial programs and build relationships in the community. Over the next year, the YMCA of the Cayman Islands will focus on facility growth, an operational plan, and expanding programs from the current seven being offered to youth and families.
“It’s hard to believe that a simple conversation among genuinely caring individuals in St. Petersburg has now become the 123rd YMCA in the worldwide movement,” said Jezek. “We look forward to supporting the YMCA of the Cayman Islands as they address the needs of the community, and to maintaining our strong ties by sharing resources.”
About YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg
The Y is one of the world’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 21 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. www.stpeteymca.org
Pictured in attached photograph, left to right:
Pastor Randy Von Kanel, Board Chair, YMCA of the Cayman Islands
Johan Vilhelm Eltvik, Secretary General, YMCA World Alliance
Ken Colloton, President, YMCA World Alliance
Greg Smith, CEO, YMCA of the Cayman Islands
David Jezek, CEO, YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg