It was a festive afternoon at the Childs Park YMCA on Mar. 19 as the city of St. Petersburg officially opened a satellite office at the facility, located at 691 43rd St. S. Mayor Rick Kriseman, on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony, stated the city is pleased to partner with Childs Park in creating a mayor’s office at the YMCA.
“We’re going to foster opportunities and increase economic prosperity,” Kriseman said. “We want to nurture families and neighborhoods and foster opportunities for all. We want to promote the arts and culture—that’s important that we have arts and culture in all areas of the city, not just downtown.”
Deborah Figgs-Sanders, executive director of the Childs Park YMCA, said she was excited about the “opportunity and the possibility and the partnership with the city of St. Petersburg.”
David Jezek, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg, added that the official opening was a great opportunity to celebrate another chapter in the Childs Park YMCA.
“In 2007 our board of directors made a decision to have a presence in Childs Park,” Jezek explained. “We broke ground, and in September of ‘08 we opened a beautiful 15,000 square foot facility.”
Jezek noted that it’s the only YMCA in the country that contains a branch of the local public library, and pointed out that there is a computer lab with a volunteer income tax program, an arts program that addresses children at risk, and an after school academic achievement program.
“We’re making a difference in the children’s academic life and working with the families,” Jezek affirmed, and lauded the branch’s other offerings like the Neighbor-to-Neighbor Christmas program and the Early Learning coalition, for parents seeking assistance with Child Care Scholarships.
“Over 400 families come through here each month for that program,” he stated. Mayor Kriseman noted that the community has a chance to revitalize the neighborhood and recommit itself to the small businesses, adding that the city doesn’t want these businesses just to survive but to prosper.
“It’s going to take a real community coming together for us to be successful,” Kriseman said. “I believe we have a tremendous opportunity to address the inequity that exists in our city, to lift up parts of south St. Petersburg in a sustainable manner by investing in people, not just things. And that’s why we are proudly bringing city hall to you here.”
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