Welcoming 'the Y' to Grand Cayman

The YMCA’s debut could prove to be a landmark moment for community service in the Cayman Islands.

“The Y,” as the group has been officially called since 2010, is a worldwide organization with a world-class reputation. Just as, for example, the former Hyatt resort set the standard for luxury accommodations in Cayman, we hope that the Cayman Y will raise the bar for local youth efforts, which, while pervasive, are often not as coordinated as they might be, and sometimes can be overlapping or redundant.

While the Cayman Y’s new CEO Gregory Smith hails from the U.S., with 18 years of experience accrued in Florida and Texas, the team that has been laying the groundwork for the Cayman Y since 2011 consists of local community leaders, including chairman Pastor Randy Von Kanel.

From the beginning, Pastor Randy and fellow board members were careful (and, in our opinion, wise) to emphasize the new Y has not come to destroy existing groups in the community, but to help them fulfill their own missions. Mr. Smith picked up that thread in today’s Compass story, saying, “The Y is not here to do this independently. If the Y does anything great, it will be to reach out and help connect other organizations that have the same intentions that we do, and help to develop a culture where we work together.”

If the Y succeeds in showing erstwhile rivals how to leverage shared resources in a more efficient and effective manner, that accomplishment may be more significant than any single program the Y launches in the future.

As for what specific initiatives the Y has planned, that remains to be seen but could potentially take any number of forms.

For example, the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg, Florida, a great help to Cayman during the formation process (and Mr. Smith’s most recent employer), offers a wide variety of programs, ranging from health classes for seniors, to summer camps for children, to before- and after-school activities.

In order to determine what the Y in Cayman will be, the group has surveyed the community to determine what it wants the Y in Cayman to be. According to the community survey, people were mainly concerned about youth development, especially making activities available for kids to keep them off the streets and out of trouble.

With the scores of arts, music, sports and educational activities already being offered by the Cayman Islands government, private entities and nonprofit groups, this perhaps could be one area where the Y can achieve quick wins by helping coordinate and publicize the efforts of existing organizations.

Last summer, the Y joined forces with the Cayman Islands Sports Office to provide free summer camps to children ages 6 to 16 for sports such as swimming, football and basketball. The Y also has a partnership with the Cayman Islands Little League Association and recently helped clean up the baseball complex in George Town.

The editorial board expects the Y will continue to generate positive headlines in this newspaper and contribute meaningfully to the lives of Cayman residents of all ages.
To Mr. Smith, the Y and its partners, let us extend our best wishes for your future success.