The YMCA in the Cayman Islands was officially established in 2012 the same way the original Y movement began way back in London, England in 1844; from a small group of concerned citizens. The organisations’ first Chairman, Pastor Randy Von Kanel as well as a local business owner, Mike Flowers, saw a need in the community for many of the programmes traditionally offered by YMCA’s around the globe. When they reached out for support through the relationahops with the Tibbetts-Brandes family, they were quickly connected with the YMCA of St. Petersburg in Florida. The St. Pete Y was instrumental in setting up our island’s Y.
In November 2012, the YMCA was officially introduced to the people of the Cayman Islands at an event held at the Agriculture Grounds. The event included children’s activities, musical entertainment, sporting activities, food and family fun. The event also kicked off the community needs assessment research to determine the focus of the Y and its programmes. This continued through district awareness meetings held across the island. The district events included presentations to inform the island about the YMCA but also to obtain feedback on what these communities’ concerns were and what they wanted most from a Y in Cayman.
In October 2013, the Y hired its first employee, CEO Greg Smith. Greg came to Cayman with 20 years of YMCA experience and provided the necessary expertise to get the Y off the ground. Following Greg’s arrival the Y hired full time Programme Coordinators Jenny Stuesser and Caymanian Carl Morgan. Not long after the Y expanded further bringing on Caymanian Gillian Roffey as their Operations Director.
In summer 2014 the YMCA began offering its first programmes. Family Fun Fitness as well as Day Camp for children ages 5 – 12. From that first camp of about 20 children, the Y now offers camps during every school break and has hosted as many as 150 children a week, utilizing four venues.
In 2014, our Y was officially recognized at the 18th World Council of YMCA’s (held every 4 years) as the 119th, and newest national movement, in the world alliance of YMCA’s across the globe.
The growth of the YMCA has been financially supported by an individual Founders campaign that was followed by a Corporate Founders campaign that ran through 2016. Both provided the foundation for the Y to grow and offer programmes that align with our three main areas of focus: youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.
The Y is only just beginning to write what will be a long history in the Cayman Islands…