If you’re not following all the projects, events and initiatives that are going on at your local YMCA, you’re missing out! Sure, there’s gym facilities, open swim, and exercise classes, but the Y is more than a gym, and the nonprofit really shines when it comes to building community and responding to the needs of the neighborhood. For families, check out their Adventure Guides Program; for volunteer opportunities, ask about stocking the Y’s Food Pantry; for teens, there’s Youth and Government; and everyone is invited to stop by Wednesdays from 2 to 4 p.m. for fresh produce and canned goods through their partnership with the FeedLA program.
The YMCA is led by Executive Director John Loussararian, who leads a dedicated staff and volunteer team that is passionate about supporting the community, building new partnerships and being a resource for health and wellness.
Q. What are some of the programs or initiatives that you’re most proud of for 2022? What are some goals for 2023? A. Over the past couple of years, I am proud of our board and staff’s focus on responding to our community’s most critical needs. At the height of the pandemic, we served the daily essential needs of our unhoused neighbors; worked alongside our schools in supporting the distance learning challenges faced by our students and their families; empowered our Youth & Government delegates in grappling with complex societal challenges through our “Finding Common Ground” seminar series, and the list goes on. As we emerge from the challenges brought on by COVID, we recognize that our youth and families were impacted the greatest. To that end, I am excited by our board’s commitment in responding to the residual effects brought on and/or amplified by the pandemic, including the social-emotional wellbeing of our youth and teens; the learning recovery of our students, and creating opportunities for families to strengthen relationships between parent/child, as well as building new friendships with other families in our community.
Q. How is your nonprofit having an impact in Westchester/Playa and beyond? A. Thanks to our continued partnership with the Drollinger Family Charitable Foundation, we have relaunched our Youth Yoga Program in support of the students at nine partnering schools in building resilience and coping skills through mindfulness activities. We are also working with four local schools where our coaches are providing PE programming during the school day; and one local school where we provide an after school enrichment program. We are serving 3,200 students on 14 school campuses to respond to the health and well-being, mental health and learning recovery needs of our students.
We have also relaunched our Adventure Guides program, which aims to facilitate positive lifelong memories for parents and children, while building bonds among families through various monthly activities. During the Safer-at-Home days, we had three families that kept the program on life support, and I am proud to report we now have more than 110 participating in the program!
Q. What is the best way for people to support or get involved with your organization? A. There are two great ways to get involved. Join our YMCA through signing up for a membership or contribute through our online giving portal, ymcaLA.org/wcgive. One hundred percent of your contribution will directly support our Y’s response to the needs of our community.
Q. What’s the number one thing the community should know about the Westchester Family YMCA? A. The YMCA is a charitable nonprofit organization committed to strengthening the foundations of community through programs that support youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. We invite our community to join our efforts in supporting our neighbors through volunteerism and our year-round philanthropic efforts!
Learn more at ymcala.org/westchester.