The YMCA of Greater Houston Partners with Big Brothers Big Sisters to Provide a Safe, Enriching Environment for Youth
Wanting to make a difference in a child's life, Tim Garza, 29, joined the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) program roughly two years ago and was matched with a 14-year-old boy named De'un. De'un did well in school and showed promising athletic ability, but he was later shot in the foot by a neighborhood kid.
Fearing De'un might continue to run into the wrong people, Garza searched for a place where he could go after school and during the idle days of summer. Garza approached the YMCA of Greater Houston and suggested a partnership with BBBS, in which Bigs and Littles could go to the YMCA free of charge.
Knowing that many young people need regular exposure to positive role models, executives at both organizations instantly embraced the idea.
"The YMCA cannot be more excited to open its doors to Big Brothers Big Sisters," said Paul McEntire, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Houston. "We can’t think of a more natural fit between two organizations, which at their core strive to give children the tools to lead successful lives."
Currently lacking in Big Brothers in particular, BBBS' CEO Pierce Bush said he hopes access to the YMCA's gyms, exercise equipment and sports programs will prompt more young men to become mentors to boys who don't have positive male role models in their lives.
With his foot nearly healed, De'un, now 16, said he is excited about going to the YMCA on a regular basis. "They are all real nice people there," he said of the Houston Texans YMCA, the center closest to his home. "I feel comfortable around them. If it weren't for the Y, I’d just be around the house with nothing to do except watch TV."
Now, the rising sophomore, who has won top honors at his high school for his athletic achievements, can resume his workouts with people who offer unconditional support.
"The YMCA is a place to go after school and during the summer that is a much safer alternative to being on the street," Garza said. "The more De'un is surrounded by positive people, the more his perspective on life will change. Sometimes all kids know about the world is their own neighborhood."
For more information on this collaboration, contact Erika Morton, manager of Strategic Partnerships & Communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org.